Goats for Sale!!

Two of this year’s excellent crop of doe kids are being offered for sale from Owl Hill Farm! Take a look:

 

These first pictures are for the doeling born on March 7th, 2017. She is by QRR Fred, a registered 100% New Zealand Kiko bred by Quick Run Ranch in SC. Fred had a long journey to get to Owl Hill Farm but boy are we glad he got here because his kids are drop dead gorgeous. Look at this face! Keep reading for her sales pitch. 😉

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This doeling’s mother is one of my keeper does from two years ago. Her grand-mother is still sassy and thriving. Her mother is hands down one of the best does in the entire herd: she’s a great mother, kids easily, stays fat on hay and forage even during lactation! Her kids have all inherited this incredible thriftiness, that is one of the hallmarks of the Kiko breed. The entire bloodline is graced with excellent health and hardiness and even good sense. This doeling could be proven up to 50% Kiko, but all of my does are commercial does. The doeling is 7/8 Kiko and 1/8 Lamancha. Her mother has some Lamancha in her and does provide plentiful, fantastic milk. This doeling is used to being handled and could easily be trained to a milking stand herself.

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You can see that she’ll be long legged and graceful like her mother. She’s just plain pretty, with proven parents. I’d recommend her very highly if you’re looking for a low maintenance, dual purpose doe that is likely to pass some interesting colors and safe, wide, solid hornset to her offspring. (Narrow set horns might fit in stands but they also catch everything from other goats to human arms to tree branches) She’d make a great homesteading goat because of the versatility potential in her bloodline (which usually drops twins, just to double the awesome in this goat). Her angles are all great, she has clean 1×1 teats (an even pair of normally shaped teats, for those who don’t speak goat breeder-ese), and she’s responded beautifully to regular handling. I’m not selling her because she’s “extra” or “second best” I’m selling her because I’ve already got her mother being an excellent dual purpose goat and I think her kid is worth selling. I won’t sell what I wouldn’t keep myself. She will be properly ear tagged prior to sale. No, I will not remove her horn buds. Unless you’re a commercial dairy (in which case you probably want a full blood dairy breed, let’s be honest) there’s no reason to remove them that’s more important than the goat’s self defense or ability to shed heat in the summer. I am asking $200 for her. If you take the pair, they are $375. Keep reading for the second sales pitch!

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The second doe kid being sold was born March 8th and is also by QRR Fred She’s out of one of my amazing BoKi does. Yes, she’s 3/4 Kiko and 1/4 Boer, making her an American Meatmaker cross. She can be proven up to 50% Kiko because her mother is unregistered. She does have her sire’s pale eyes and creamy white fur, which she is likely to pass on to her offspring although Fred’s line does have some color in it, and her grand-sire on her mother’s side is a coal black Kiko buck. Unusual colors may very well be hiding in there.

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She, like all of the others, was up and running and active within 90 minutes of her easy birth. I’ve got her mother, her yearling half sister from last year, and I’m keeping her twin sister from this year. I am THAT pleased with this doe’s kids. They’re well built, very thrifty, have never had issues with worms, and are very sweet natured. This doe’s yearling sister would probably follow me around the farm like a puppy with horns if not for the mastiff.

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Even as a kid you can see the strong, solid frame she’ll have when she grows up. This doe would also lend herself well to a small farm or homestead situation. Kikos are thrifty, hardy, kid easily, mother their kids well, grow rapidly, and pack on a lot of meat with far fewer input calories than other meat breeds. Don’t let their small birth size fool you- they grow FAST. 50lb weanlings are not unusual, although 40 is more common. This doeling also has a lot of colorful goats in her bloodline, with well set horns, well set and shaped udders, plenty of muscle and gentle behavior to go with it. This doeling already has the same widely set horn buds and a clean 2×2 teat structure (two sets of normally shaped teats- it happens quite often in Boers and Boer crosses and as long as those extra teats are correctly shaped it is not considered a fault). She will be properly tagged prior to sale. No I will not remove her horn buds. Unless you are running a commercial dairy (and if you’re buying a meat breed doeling, you’re not) there are no reasons to remove those horns that are more important than the goat’s self defense and ability to regulate heat. I am asking $200 for her. If you purchase the pair, they will be $375.

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Owl Hill Farm is located in Park Hall, Maryland. I don’t ship, but I could arrange transport up to 200 miles by road for a small fee. Each doeling will come tagged and collared. $200 each or $375 for the pair. The best way to get more information or to claim one or both doelings is to email the farm manager (that would be me) using the contact form below.

Don’t forget I also have a couple of nice looking bucklings that are being offered for sale as meat prospects. Legally I can only sell you a live animal. I have a good relationship with a local custom processor or I can arrange animal transport to the processor of your choice up to 200 miles. Remember that if you choose to butcher your own meat (perfectly legal in Maryland as long as it’s for your own use) Owl Hill Farm buys back useable hides for tanning into pelts and leather.

First Signs of Spring

Don’t let the late cold fool you, spring really is right around the corner! It’s there, I can hear it! Oh wait, no, that’s the sound of a box of baby chickens shrieking at each other….

Yes our replacement hens are here. We got a box of day old baby Buff Orpingtons to replace the Wyandottes who got eaten by owls. It’s Owl Hill Farm for a reason, y’all. Fortunately, we’ve also built them a much, much better enclosure so we should see significantly less predation from here out. The remaining girls are laying AA Jumbo eggs as hard as they can lay them, there just aren’t that many of them left. Currently, the available egg supply is going to family and friends. Once the supply increases then fresh, free range (mostly- they go wherever they want during the day and get locked up at night because owls) AA Ex large and Jumbo eggs will be their usual $4/dozen.

Constant noise aside, baby chickens are probably the second most adorable thing on the planet. Baby goats are the most adorable.

Behold, the single most powerful defense mechanism of any animal: adorable babies!

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Kisswhere’s triplets, February 27 2017

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Top Hat’s twins, March 7 2017

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Nadia’s twins, March 8 2017

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Uru’s twins, March 8 2017

Aren’t they precious? Current count is 4 doelings and 5 bucklings. We’re still waiting on two does but they were bred a couple of weeks behind the others. So far everyone is healthy and active.

2 of the bucklings are a dairy/meat hybrid out of a very docile, friendly doe and may prove desirable pack animals for people in that particular market. Every kid is handled regularly from birth, but I do not bottle feed. I will not be disbudding them, but I will wether them unless someone wants them as bucks. I ask $100 per animal no matter what you’re planning to do with it. They cost the same to raise up whether they’re going to the freezer or harness training. It is possible that I will have a doeling for sale later. I only have room for a dozen adult does until we get the next pasture enclosed. While some of my original stock is either registered or from registered herds, my animals are not registered. Saves me (and you) a lot of money since those papers are not cheap. I wouldn’t sell an animal as potential breeding stock if it isn’t the same quality that I would keep myself. I select for rapid growth, easy kidding and good maternal qualities, and parasite resistance. I will not make any decisions about breeding or not breeding quality until all kids are at least 16 weeks old. If you are interested in a breeding quality animal, please let me know ASAP as they will require different management.

And remember that Owl Hill Farm does not (currently) sell meat- only live animals. We are happy to direct you to a local custom slaughter shop that comes very highly recommended and also sends back a lot of the ‘waste’ like skins (which I tan) and bones (which have many uses) and any organs that you don’t want (which often go to supplement the dog’s food) so most of each animal gets used appropriately. We’re big on not wasting.

I’ve also got a ton of seeds started. OK maybe not a literal ton but certainly there will be plenty of extra seedlings for sale in time for April planting. The local stores that already have warm weather starts out are just asking people to throw away their money. The last spring frost date here is April 10th. Most things can’t be planted until then, so there’s just no point in forcing seeds to sprout in January. I’ll have Celebrity, Cherokee Purple, and Giallo De Summer Tomato seedlings in time for main season planting. I’ve also started an excess of Savoy cabbage seeds that are sprouting at a fantastic rate, as well as a few extra California Wonder sweet bell peppers. I don’t normally start squashes early- we get enough for our freezer with normal direct sowing- but I do have some room left if anyone speaks up VERY SOON to have me start some zuchinni, yellow crookneck, or white pattypan squashes for them.

I still have baby spider plants (and the mother plants are making more…) as well as pothos, wandering jew, and winter cactus babies in adorable little cups that can be recycled when they are outgrown.

All started plants are $3 each or 2 for $5.

It is beginning!

Announcing the first kids of 2017!

One of my original BoKi does gifted the farm with triplets just before noon today. All three (two doelings and one buckling) were on the ground within five minutes and she had them all cleaned up, drying off and wobbling around looking for the breakfast bar not quite 60 minutes later. Kikos are awesome.

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We love our animals, no one here is vegan, and that is not a contradiction.

Apparently I have to say this. I have left the most recent facebook comments where they are for two reasons. First, they make it pretty clear that if you’re looking for a smiles-and-cauliflower approach to life, you’re in the wrong place. Second, they beautifully illustrate how to politely and gracefully excuse yourself from a page. Please take a hint, internet.

No, Owl Hill Farm has no vegan members. There’s one relative who doesn’t eat meat but does appreciate eggs and milk… I guess that makes her a vegetarian? I’m not actually sure. Either way, there are no persons here who believe that it is inherently wrong to make use of an animal’s effort, products, or flesh. We do believe that there is a right and wrong way to go about doing this, however.

We don’t use antibiotics, de-wormers, or other pharmaceuticals unless they are absolutely necessary. We’ve all seen the horror stories about resistant infections and resistant infestations and we don’t want any part of contributing to that. Good quality diets firmly based in roughage/forage and solid rotational grazing practices go a long, long way toward avoiding the need for these things anyway. Work with nature, not against her.

 

This is how everything works together here, with nature and not against it. Most obviously, everything poops. Chickens and rabbits contribute to the amazing compost that keeps the vegetables impressive and the goats scatter theirs across their pastures so that I don’t ever have to add chemical fertilizer to the field. The chickens are probably the best bang for the cluck, since not only is their compost awesome but they scratch through everything they can reach and peck out all of the bugs. Yes, chickens are omnivores naturally. I haven’t pulled a tick off of a human or pet since we turned the chickens out to start scratching for bugs years ago, and they lay AA Ex-Large and Jumbo eggs with huge dark protein rich yolks from February to November. I don’t use artificial lights to keep them laying year round, but I also have some three year old hens still laying strong when a commercial egg layer’s life is less than two years. That natural winter break is important to their health. There is no vegetable waste on this farm. If the goats, rabbits, chickens. or mealworms (the hens’ winter protein supply) won’t eat it, it gets composted. Grass and leaf clippings get composted or mulched if they aren’t being fed to rabbits or lining nest boxes because who buys wood shavings or straw when there’s free leaf mulch?

There’s no animal product waste on this farm either, and that’s the part that’s harder to explain, but apparently needs to be explained. Every animal here is food or a support system for food. The goats are lean, healthy, naturally raised, no antibiotic or hormone involved red meat. They are also milk, leather, tallow, bone crafts, wool, draft labor, self-propelled field fertilizer, dog food, and hours of entertainment. I do, in fact, know how to use everything but the ‘baaa’ from a goat. (yes, even the offal has uses- ever eat black pudding?) This means that we require fewer goats to meet all of our needs, and treat each and every goat with respect and a strange, hard to explain sense of admiration for just how much it’s giving us. It’s not just the goats, either. Rabbits are meat and pelts and dog food (some offal that is perfectly edible if treated properly by humans that is better served regards the time involved by being fed to the dog. Security system’s gotta eat too.) in addition to being fantastic producers of compost material. Rabbit poop is amazing soil amendment, once properly rotted down. The chickens are even more multipurpose. They lay eggs, till the garden beds, provide unbelievable pest control, deposit high-nitrogen soil amendment wherever they go, are hilariously entertaining, and even make decent soup when their egg laying days are done. Old chicken is like trying to eat leather, but it does put great flavor in the soup. Again, with all of them it’s hard to explain the sense of admiration for these animals, because they really are so much more than food.

So no, we’re not vegan. We’re committed to working with nature and the natures of our livestock. Livestock are part of a larger interconnected and mutually supportive system we call small-scale sustainable agriculture. They’re food, but they’re also a lot more. We respect them, we admire them, and we don’t let any of them go to waste.

Coming Soon!

No really, they’ll be hitting the ground any day now… Look at these does!

Those necessary jobs- a poop story

This weekend I finished (with some help, thanks guys who were actually all girls but I tend to use guys generically!) two of the four big nasty necessary parts of keeping things going on this farm. The tiny sheds in the Quarantine lot (which has FINALLY had the fence completely removed to the correct location fuckyouverymuchneighbor) have been mucked out and their rather *ahem* aromatic collections have been added to the current phase of the compost piles. I say ‘piles’ because there was in fact that much shit. I have also scraped out everything underneath the rabbit cages and added it to the piles.

I’m dreading the chicken coop and the big goat shed.

I had no idea until recently when more and more folks with all of zero agricultural background started showing up at various agriculturally themed local events that no one talks about poop on a farm. Seriously, no one talks about one of the biggest, messiest, and most valuable free resources that livestock create. That shit is black gold. Or, slightly brownish gold, depending on the species.

I recently had to explain to someone that you have to let various critter poop rot before you can use it on the garden- it’s too strong and can chemically burn your crops if you don’t. They had no idea. They were just too busy complaining about the smell. Of course, that will fade away too as it rots down into good black compost. Dig a few of the worms out of the lower layers and go fishing, while you’re at it.

Speaking of worms, don’t ignore worm poop. A mealworm colony costs about $50 to start (worm nucleus, bins, wheat bran, vegetable scraps) and feeds chickens forever for very nearly free. Just some more wheat bran every so often. If you’re feeling ambitions you can migrate the colony and have a bin full of bran and worm castings. That’s poop. Epic fertilizer.

Yes. Farming is a crappy job. That’s what makes it grow.

 

Just in time

The Donner pole has been planted in the Q lot.

There are hours and hours of work and a lot of meaning in that statement.

The pole itself is- I will be the first to admit- not very well carved. I am a lot of things, but I am clearly not a wood carver. Still, you can tell that it’s a face with a beard and with the red dye you can even figure out Who it’s supposed to be. It is carved out of an aged gum limb that fell (no oak limbs handy, but given that gum shares oak’s reputation for strength and longevity in this area, I’m pretty sure it’s ok.) and has been treated with linseed oil to prolong its life in ground contact.

It’s in the Q lot, or Quarantine lot, which has been the work of many hours and many people to move the fence to the correct side of the new property lines. I finished staking the bottom of the fence down yesterday. The lot is used for goats that are new and need to be observed for a while first, or for goats that are ill and need special care, and for does who are about to give birth and need a lot with good tree cover to protect the kids from eagles (it also is surrounded with chain link and is better for keeping other predators out) and it is used to isolate specific does with a buck for breeding. It also sits on the corner of the property surrounded by hostile neighbors. I literally could not think of a more appropriate location for a pole shrine for Donner.

As much as I would like to open this to the public, I can not do that. Yet. I am currently still working in the school system 3-4 days a week and will (if my work passes the examination of current co-op members) be working sporadically at a craft shop in Leonardtown where my work will also be hosted. That said, if you would like to visit the pole, please do not hesitate to contact me. We can probably work something out.

Hail Donner.