Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Successfully Milking With The Homemade Pump

We did it!  What an adventure!  We finally tweaked the pump to work without a hitch.  It took some plumbing parts, silicone, and lots and lots of patients that I did not have today.

Note:  The lid was replaced with one with better drilled holes.

 The JB Weld that we used didn't work very well and the fittings just didn't seal good enough to get a proper vacuum so we decided to invest in the plumbing parts.

Fittings in place.  The silicone was added on both sides
to insure a full seal.

The finished product worked like a charm.  Now if it can only get the goats to cooperate.  Why on God's green earth we would decide it is a good idea to try and milk, now 6 goats that have never been milked before is beyond me.  Our neighbor sent Lilly, her lamancha down for us to milk.  They have given us so much and are great neighbors that it feels good to be able to give back to them.

Lilly the Lamancha

As I was saying I don't know what we were thinking milking the goats that have never been milked.  Sugar is really good.  Nanny is good when she is in the mood.  Penelope is NEVER in the mood to be good.  Lilly the lamancha didn't know what was going on and she missed her three babies.

Today was more like a wrestling match and let's just say, I lost.  We decided to move our operation into the yard as we have the nannies free ranging and we can bring them in one by one.  We usually do it outside the yard and usually have to fend off the other just to feed and milk one.  Well, today we had to fend off babies who thought they were hungry.  Which there were not since we had fed them just before we started milking.  I also went down when I tried to bring the first goat in.  They were all at the gate and they all wanted in and the babies were fighting to get out to them.  Let's just say it wasn't pretty.

The babies also kept trying to jump on the milk stand when their mom was on it to nurse while the six month old babies kept trying to get to the feed.  I tried to fence the older ones off but they squeezed there fat bellies through that fence.  When it was all said and done today I stated it might have been easier to walk ten miles in the snow to buy milk.

Just joking.  Kinda.

We really are proud of what we are doing and from reading this you can see we are still learning valuable lessons.  By the way the milk stand was promptly taken out of the yard when  we were done. We happily delivered Lilly's milk to our neighbor who was surprised at the quantity already.  Now I am sore from the battering I took today.  It will be all worth it in the morning when I have a little goat milk with my coffee.

As for our future milk goats.  Our babies at one month old already have what we call the "squat button".  We have been training them since day one to be friendly.  We also rub their utter so they can get use to it and they squat just like they are suppose to.  Most of our girls look like they will have good teats too.  That is our goal.  Small friendly milk goats.  Heck even our barbado sheep Mary has a squat button.  Yes, one day we will milk her too but she is not old enough for me to breed her yet.

Welcome To Hilltop Homestead - The Gypsy Traveler & Jane

Welcome to the homestead The Gypsy Traveler & Jane.

Our homestead is still in the infant stages.  We have been slowly building since 2008 and loving every minute of it. 

Livin' Simply An Lovin' It

Here is a new blogger near and dear to my heart.  Give her blog a looky and see what you think.

Livin' Simply An Lovin' It

Monday, January 30, 2012

God Provides

We have not been employed outside of the home for 2 1/2 years now.  I have even applied for a dishwashing job at a local restaurant without any luck.  We struggle many times with where do we go from here.  Is there something we are not doing?  We search for jobs and in the meantime we do things around the homestead to provide for ourselves.  Year before last we were even able to give fresh produce to a local food bank.  

Still we wonder what is it we are suppose to do. Then I got to thinking.  Maybe what we are suppose to do is exactly what we are doing.  We put one foot in front of the other praying for guidance.  We have been blessed in so many way.  Some small and some not so small.  We have a beautiful place to live.  Most of our livestock has come to us free of charge.  We have land to grow food and share the food we grow.  We have neighbors who share with us and also help out when we are in need.  Just yesterday a neighbor gave us a rabbit hutch that needs some repairs because another friend of ours is giving us 4 rabbits.  Blessings and more blessings.

Some of you may remember that earlier this month one of our dogs came up missing.

We Cant Find Opal

While I was out searching the woods I came upon some PVC pipe buried in the leaves.  What a great find it was because back just before Christmas one of my neighbors helped me run new wiring to the well house as something had chewed through the old wiring that was buried without tubing.  

Blessing Of Good Neighbors 

Yesterday I went down in the woods and pulled out all the PVC and brought it up to the house.

Now I have just the right amount of the same size tubing to run the electrical lines underground from our home to the well house.  Perfect.

So this is how our life here on the homestead has been.  What we need has so far been provided for in one form or another.  So what do I do?  I trust God when I ask for guidance and try to never refuse God's gifts.  Most of all I remember I do all this to be of service.

I learned a long time ago that the bumper stickers say "Expect a Miracle" should actually say "Accept a Miracle".  We can expect all day long but if we never accept it...well you can fill the rest of that in.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

That Thar Be A Hog

The guy who leases the land for hay production has a trap set to catch the feral hogs that are rooting up the fields.  Let me just say they have done a fine job.  It we needed the field tilled for planting that would be a good thing but we don't.  The ruts they leave is hard on the equipment causing some unpleasant breakdowns as well as a bumpy bumpy ride.

Well looky what was in the trap this morning.

I don't think he was much excited to see me.
I was very excited to see him.... in the trap.

This is one less hog that will be rooting in the field tonight.

Additional note:  The trap is 3 foot high.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Milking Update - Day Three & Hawk

This is day three of milking.  Today we used the new hand pump milker that I made.  We used a 10 ml syringe.  (It is the kind you can purchase at the store to administer medication to children with.)  The tip is larger so it fit more securely on the tubing.  The syringe it's self is also smaller than the ones we tried using yesterday.

The result was a better seal on the teat.  We did have a problem with the JB Weld holding.  Who would have thought that?  I thought JB Weld held EVERYTHING.  We didn't give up and with some modifications to our procedure we made it work and got over a pint of milk from our five girls.  We need to figure out how to get the tubing to seal better to the jar lid.

We are very excited about our progress.  The goats have started to identify the milk stand with food.  I caught them a couple times today around and on it looking for food.  They all were eager to jump right up there (at once) when it came time.  It is good that there are two of us to milk because one person couldn't do it with all that we go through.  I am sure things will level out once well all get into a routine.

On another note, I have had  a pair of hawks checking out my fowl.  Today I was outside and heard this sound that just wasn't right.  I headed in the direction of the sound (which did sound like one of my girls) about 100 yards, around the Grandma Post Oak Tree and came within 8 to 10 foot from a redtail hawk.  Needless to say I was less than pleased.  They are beautiful and majestic when they are feeding on wildlife but eying my girls and trying to have them for dinner is another thing.  

The good news is the chicken got away.  I am sure it was due to timing with me running in that direction with the GP as well as the immaturity of the bird.  We believe it is a young bird that isn't very skilled in hunting yet as it dove into thick underbrush to get to said chicken.  The other good news it the fowl stayed closer together for the rest of the day instead of their usual running off on their own.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hand Pump Goat Milker

I got it all put together however something is not quite working right on it yet.  There was a slight leak so we are currently JB Welding the connectors to the mason jar lid.  We also decided after watching another youtube video that we might need a smaller syringe.

Day two of hand milking and we got 2/3 cup.  We would have had a full cup but the bucket got dumped after the first goat was milked.  Lesson learned and corrective measures have been taken.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Homemade Hand Pump Goat Milker

Yep, you read it correctly.  This little pile one day very soon will be our future hand pump goat milker.  Harriet was looking around for one on the web last night and they cost almost $200.  Then she came upon a video on how this guy made his own.  We figure if he can do it so can we.  I'll post a picture of the finished product and let you know how it goes.

I am excited because it will keep out the hair and other possible debris.  I don't know about you but I don't really care much for hair in my milk.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

First Milking

Total after straining
I had intended to take a bit of video of the milking however I was needed to help hold the back legs.  They kicked and kicked until they surrendered and just ate.  We were generally good until they ran out of food.

The stand worked well.  I can see where there is some need for modification.  You will note the various modifications already for the head gate inclosure.  Wood, baling twine, then finally part of a coat hanger.  All three worked to various degrees.  We are planning to actually have the stand against a wall for it's permanent placement.

Our smallest adult goat, Sheri

One of our largest goats, Nanny
Ernestine is in training
Ornery felt a bit left out so we had to let him join in.
We figure it is good for all the goats as this will be a good
way to trim their hooves also.

Pygmy/Nigerian Dwarf Milk Stand

I just completed the milking stand however we have not tested it yet.  I have faith it will work if we can get our girls not to throw to big of a fit.  Food will be a good trade off I feel.

The stand is made from salvaged wood from my neighbor's burn pile and some scrap my father intended to burn if I couldn't find a use for it.  Please, I can find a use for almost anything.

The feeding pot came from my cousin who had it in a load he was taking to the dump.  Why throw away a perfectly good pot?!  The mat was the back door mat until the GPs thought it would be fun to drag around the yard and chew on.  I rescued it before they did to much damage.  I roughly painted the squares to make it look prettier.

I didn't have a lock for the head gate so I improvised with the wooden latch lock.  I hope it works out as well as I hope.  If the storms hold out this evening we will give it a test run.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Welcome To Hilltop Homestead - Mina

Welcome to the homestead Mina.

I don't blog every day but I try to get several in a week.  That is if I can find something to blog about.

Our homestead is still in the infant stages but it is growing and we are learning.  Thank God for our blogging friends who we are able to share ideas and learn from.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Milk Stand is ALMOST Complete

It doesn't seem right that it is taking this long as I have been working a total of maybe a day.  Then again, it takes what it takes.  I found some wonderful plans at Fias Co Farm although I have had to make some minor modifications as we have Pygmy/Nigerian Dwarf mix goats.  Which means they are not quite as big as regular goats.

It should be entertaining the first time we try to milk.  I am sure our girls will throw a wall eyed fit for sure.  I promised Bacon and Eggs to give her an update on how it goes.  Hopefully I'll have that information tomorrow as it is my plan to complete the stand TOMORROW.

Update:  Ok, it may be the next day before it is complete because I want to paint it before it all goes completely together.  I want my milk stand to be pretty as well as functional.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Time Going By

I know I haven't posted lately.  I haven't even been able to keep up with all the blogs I follow.  It just seems since Christmas and the New Year that I have been busy and I just don't seem to have the computer time to catch up yet.

I am getting new idea for post as well as getting some things done around here that need to get done.  For so long I was having problems getting a visual of how I really wanted to do something and it finally came to me the other day.  I am excited about that as for me if I don't have a visual then I don't quite get it.  It is just how my brain operates.

That all being said I hope to find balance soon and hopefully do some catching up as well as blog a bit myself.  I feel I am missing out and I hate that feeling.  So be patient.  I am out and about a bit and should be more balanced soon.  I hope.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Welcome To Hilltop Homestead - DFW

Welcome to the homestead DFW.  (Now don't you know I have the Vaughn Brother's song playing in my head.)

I don't blog every day but I try to get several in a week.  That is if I can find something to blog about.

Our homestead is still in the infant stages but it is growing and we are learning.  Thank God for our blogging friends who we are able to share ideas and learn from.

For those of you who may be interested DFW posted a guest blog on my friend Modern Day Redneck's page.  It is about an outdoor oven they built.  Be sure and check it out.  They did a real nice job and it even works.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Welcome To Hilltop Homestead - Rusty

Welcome to the homestead Rusty.

I have known Rusty for over 20 years as we have a mutual friend.  After finally talking ourselves today I can see where we should have been talking long before now.

I don't blog every day but I try to get several in a week.  That is if I can find something to blog about.

Our homestead is still in the infant stages but it is growing and we are learning.  Thank God for our blogging friends who we are able to share ideas and learn from.

Rusty also has a blog spot where he blogs about the goings on in his part of the woods or desert at Ideas and Opinions.  He lives somewhat of a dual life.  I look forward to seeing what he has done and what he will do next.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Root - Fruit - Nut

The title amuses me because I am easily amused.

As I said in my last blog the move "Food Matters" has changed the way we approach the food we eat.  We already buy organic if we can and we do our best to stay away from genetically modified food.  I don't feel there is any need to prefect what God has created.

In the movie it states that for our health 51% of what we eat should be raw.  This is for the enzymes, nutrients, and the fiber.  They say that even light steaming kills of things that are beneficial to us.

Rather than change our diet drastically which we have found never works we have decided to add to our diet.  We have started to add a greater quantity of raw vegetables and fruit.  Our first dish was a broccoli salad from shredded broccoli with a light buttermilk/mayonnaise dressing.  Very light just for flavoring.  We found it to be very filling for a long period of time.

Last night I made a dish of shredded carrots, apples, chopped walnuts, and ginger root with just a splash of lemon to keep the apples from turning browner than they were already turning.  The lemon did help bring out the flavors however.  Once again we were satisfied with the full feelings for a lengthy period not to mention it was down right tasty.

Today I am thinking I might want to play with jicama in my next dish.  Don't pick the large fruits rather like most other things modest to small is better.

Now if I can only convince myself to eat slower and enjoy the meal longer.  I tend to over eat because I love the taste of the food and I eat to fast.  I must learn to eat and savor the food.  I would enjoy it the same amount of time without over eating.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Food Matters

We started watching this wonderful documentary and it has already changed our lives.  Well, we have made alterations in the way we think and live.  We tend to think in a certain direction that we are taught.  I have found that when I change the direction of my thinking and become open minded I learn better ways to care for myself.

My parents always taught me how to be self sufficient.  I don't think they meant it in the way that I am striving to live for they are very dependent on the system that I wish to break free from.  One of these is health care.  Most of my life I have not had insurance.  Even when I did 1/2 of that time I couldn't afford to use it.  What this movie brings to light is that we already have to tools to be healthy.  We just are not using them.

I am also a license massage therapist in the state of Texas.  I found in my practice that the majority of the people who came to me just wanted me to fix them.  I had people who came to me every week with the same problems because they were not doing what they needed to be doing for themselves to be better.  I found that they didn't want to be responsible for their own health.  

Most of us reading blogs and homesteading are looking for a different life.  A life where we can nourish ourselves, and our families.  The solution or at least the base foundation of the solution is the food we eat.  What we eat.

I could go on and on but instead I implore you to take the time, not for me but for yourself.  To watch this movie.  I promise if you truly care about your life as well as your loved ones, it will change the way you think and possibly the way you eat.  I know it has mine.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

We Can't Find Opal - Happy Update (Found)

Born - January 9, 2011

Opal and I watching a new baby goat.
Opal with her favorite Mommy.
She relaxed so completely she slid to the ground.

Opal came up missing yesterday around feeding time.  One minute she was in the front yard playing with the neighbor's GP then she was gone.  Now, I understand for some this is not a cause for alarm knowing the breed.  We know our Opal.  When she was a puppy one of her back legs were injured and it never fully recovered.  As a result she is a stay at home close to her goats kind of girl.  The only time she would explore was with her sister when they would romp to the pond and come back covered in mud.

Yesterday there was a man sent by my father to check out the timber on the property for harvest.  That is the only thing that is not normal about yesterday evening.  Harriet heard three gun shots close to dark but didn't tell me about it until late last night.  Before then I was looking for her running around possibly still playing with the neighbor's dog.

So this morning I got up and hit the woods.  This place never seemed so big before.  I have searched maybe 1/2 of the woods and that took 3 hours.  I don't know what I think I might find.  If I find her dead I want to know if she was shot then I'll know who did it.  But I am finding nothing.  We drove all over the place yesterday retracing steps frequently.  I think it is almost time to just surrender and give it to God.  I just don't know what else to do but at least attempt to find her.  Anyway, please keep our sweet girl in your prayers.

Opal at three months old.

Excellent Midwife
Opal and her sister Buttercup getting some well deserved love.

*** Update ***

I am happy and so very grateful to report that I found her and she is fine.  She has just a bit of cabin fever.  Somehow she got locked in the storage barn last night.  I went to close it up and she was playing with the neighbor's dog.  I don't know when she slipped in but she did and I locked her right in.  We are just so happy to have her back.  We thought we had lost her.