It’s beautiful outside right now. The stars are easily seen out here in the desert away from the city lights. It hasn’t gotten so hot yet that even when the sun goes down the heat radiates from the baked ground and you find no cool breeze anywhere except next to the air conditioning vent in the house. It’s still really nice in the mornings too when I get up to milk Darla.
Have I said how much I’m enjoying having dairy goats? Having laying hens is definitely a close runner up on my enjoyment meter. There’s just something very satisfying about getting milk and eggs from my own back yard every morning.
Today I trimmed hooves on both my buck and doe. The buck is getting very big. Trying to wrestle a 250 pound goat onto a milk stand so you can trim his hooves is definitely a two person job. Thank goodness I have good neighbors and one who always seems to show up just when I need a hand. Said neighbor and his wife also trimmed their pecan trees today and gave me all their clippings so I could give my goats what sends them into instant nirvana: browse.
Goats aren’t grazers. They’re browsers. They don’t like to eat with their heads down, rather, they’re designed to reach up into tree branches. Besides their alfalfa pellets, hay, fresh water, free choice minerals and grain feed (which only goes to my does), I like to give them three or four branches with leaves daily to nibble on. I weave them in the fencing on their pens so that they get the more natural method of browsing they enjoy. The pecan tree branches and leaves were a hit! They also like salt cedar scrub bushes, pine branches, dandelion weeds and rose bush trimmings. I haven’t found anyone to donate rose bush trimmings yet but I did notice a house in the neighborhood the other day who has a plethora of rose bushes in her yard. I think I’ll have to stop and introduce myself soon.
Getting to know my farm animals, observing their behaviors, reading about their needs has opened up an entire world to me. I don’t look at any plant the same anymore and my compost pile is getting perfected. Chickens love compost piles! It’s a total win, win. They turn the compost for me with all their scratching a burrowing and they get the nutrients their egg-producing bodies need. And I get more fresh eggs.
I created a very make-shift, temporary hen house for my chickens over the past week using pallets, bale twine, bungee cords and shade cloth. The Clampetts would be proud. Today I put together a perch for the hens to roost on at night. They had been sleeping in the “coop” that came with them, which also served as their nesting box. But this makes for a messy clean-up every morning, plus, I read that hens tend to sleep better and be happier if they can get about 36 inches off the ground onto a perch to sleep at night. For the last two nights I’ve had to go out there and put them on the perch myself as they keep wanting to go to the nesting box to sleep. Tonight they stayed, all except one hen, on the perch. It made me happy.
I’m looking forward to planting a garden next, but since summer is upon us and we don’t have the property ready for gardening a plot yet, it’ll have to wait till fall.
I guess we’re on our way to being a little homestead, which is right up my alley. I was thinking the other day about why I like doing this so much. Am I just looking to be more self-sufficient? Am I trying to free myself and my family from factory farm food products and Walmart? In part yes, I guess. But rather than striving for self-sufficiency I think what I’m really experiencing is the joy of Providence-dependency.
Every morning when I milk my doe and collect eggs from my hens, I am putting myself and my family in the position of being more aware of our dependence upon the One who created dairy goats and milk and laying hens. Of course, I’m no more dependent upon God when I milk my own goat and collect my own eggs than I am when I pick up a jug and a dozen at Walmart. He provides that milk and those eggs too. You don’t have to have a homestead or a farm to be aware of your dependence upon God for your food. Doing the morning on the farm routine around here, is just making me more aware of that dependence. As are my kids. And that’s a good thing.
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. – Psalm 145:15-17
I heartily agree that raising what we eat – eggs, veggies, etc. – is a spiritual exercise. It links us to the Creator and Sustainer of life in a way the grocery aisle never can. I wonder if there's a connection between this dynamic and the ratio of agnostics in the midwest and the coasts.
I enjoyed reading your blog. I am happy for you and your family. To have the goats and the chickens is a true blessing. Lil' Toads Ranch is looking great. The Clampets may be proud, but I know your mom is. HA! HA! I love you. Momma