Categories
Goats

February Featured Animal

I want to spend a little time each month highlighting one of the animals on our farm. If we didn’t have livestock, we wouldn’t have a business, so we want to give them some recognition!

Holly is the February feature! She loves the camera and likes to have her picture taken. I’m sure she knows she’s pretty!

The animal of the month for February is Holly. Holly is a 4-year-old registered Lamancha dairy goat. She is our friendliest goat because she was a bottle baby. That means she is also the one who is always in the way and “helping” when we are doing something near the goats. We have her one and only daughter so far, on our farm with her. Her birthday is April 29th.

Holly had a bit of a rough start and was rejected by her mom at birth. Her back legs didn’t work when she was born. Colton spent quite a bit of time working with her to get her up and going. She spent some time living in a box in our kitchen until she started walking on her own. I always said I would never have sheep or goats in my house…never say never! I wrote about Colton saving her here: Colton and Holly.

Colton has shown Holly at our county fair a couple of times. She never places well because she is cow-hocked (back legs turn in at the hock) and doesn’t have the best confirmation but he still loves taking her. She is his favorite goat with her daughter, Ivy, a close second. Holly loves food and is almost always the first one to the feed trough or hay feeder when they are refilled. Pumpkins or winter squash are a favorite snack for her. She will almost always have an orange face when we treat them to winter squash because she rubs her whole face in it.

Holly has only had one kid, Ivy. She didn’t breed the first year we tried but did last year. She is also bred this year and due to kid in March. Some of our goats have miscarried their babies this year so we are watching her closely. Colton is hoping she has at least one doeling so he can keep it in the herd.

Holly is one of the dairy goats that provides milk for all of our goat milk soaps and lotions. She is usually the third one to be milked. It is amazing how the goats quickly learn the routine and will line themselves up at the gate and for the most part stay in order. They are smart creatures!

Her favorite treats are pumpkins but if those aren’t in season she also likes orange peels. Holly enjoys the leaves of thorny Locust trees and helps to keep them under control by regularly eating the saplings down in the pasture. She is almost always cooperative while milking unless she runs out of alfalfa pellets. When that happens she refuses to stand still until her feed bin is refilled.

When you purchase one of our goat milk soaps or lotions, there’s a good chance that some of Holly’s milk is in it! You can check out all of our goat milk skincare products as well as our other products here https://14handsranchks.com/ranch-store/.

Here are some pictures of Holly over the years. She is well-loved and will hopefully have a long, happy life here at 14 Hands Ranch!

Categories
Goat Milk Soap

February Product of the Month

Our featured product for February is our Goat Milk Soap. Goat Milk Soap is a great option for sensitive skin as it is less allergenic, less drying, and offers several benefits to the skin as well. Our soaps are all made with only high-quality ingredients that are good for your skin.

You can download a more detailed list of what goat milk soaps offer from our Free Resources here: Benefits of Goat Milk Soaps and Lotions

If you would like to try our goat milk soaps or stock up, you can find a code at the bottom of this post, that is good for all of February on all of our soaps. I do have several batches of soap on the curing rack that will be added throughout the month as well.

Why We Use Goat Milk Soap

Several years ago, I experienced skin issues that included itchy, dry skin, and rashes. It felt like my skin was itching on the inside. Looking for relief, I went down the rabbit hole of natural skincare products. When I discovered goat milk products and the benefits from them, it seemed like a natural solution since we were already raising dairy goats.

This led to a lot of research and trial and error when I began to make my soaps and lotions. The relief from the skin issues I had been having was almost immediate after I began to use our products daily. My skin was no longer itching inside or out, no more rashes, or dry skin. I have experimented with adding synthetic fragrance oils to my lotions and that will make all of the symptoms flair up again. For that reason, you will never find synthetic fragrance oils used to scent our products. We promise to always use the best, most natural ingredients we can find so that our products are great for all skin ages and types.

Coupon for February

If you are looking for a more natural skincare option for your skin, I encourage you to check out our Goat Milk Soap. During January, we will be giving a 10% discount on all purchases of our soaps. Just use the code featuredproduct24. It cannot be combined with other coupons.

Categories
4-H Agriculture Goat Milk Lotion Goat Milk Soap Goats Livestock

Animal of the Month

I want to spend a little time each month highlighting one of the animals on our farm. If we didn’t have livestock, we wouldn’t have a business to begin with, so it seems like a good idea to give them some recognition!

This is Stormy with her set of twins from a couple of years ago.

The animal of the month for January is Stormy. Stormy is a 6-year-old registered Lamancha dairy goat. She is our oldest goat. We have 3 of her daughters on our farm with her. Her birthday is April 1st. Hailey named her Stormy because she was born on a stormy night; yes we choose very original and unique names around here.

Hailey and Colton have both shown her at our county fair. She has a sweet personality and is a very personable goat. However, Stormy prefers to do her own thing most of the time rather than follow the rest of the goat herd. Stormy strongly prefers the weather in spring, summer, and fall. When it starts to get to around 40 degrees or below, she chooses to stay in their shelter unless fresh hay or grain has just been delivered.

Stormy is always a good mama and usually has twins. Interestingly, all of her babies have been mostly black with just a small amount of white on them just like her with the exception of one (pictured above). We are hoping she will have at least one doeling again this year when she kids in March or April.

Stormy is one of the dairy goats that provide milk for all of our goat milk soaps and lotions. She is always the first one in line to go to the milk stand for milking and does NOT like it if another goat pushes out the gate in front of her. Her favorite treats are alfalfa pellets and orange rinds. She also really likes a spring sapling with new green leaves, my peach trees are a particular favorite of hers. Stormy is always a good girl when being milked and never steps in or kicks the bucket, which is greatly appreciated by the person milking her.

When you purchase one of our goat milk soaps or lotions, there’s a good chance that some of Stormy’s milk is in it! You can check out all of our goat milk skincare products as well as our other products here https://14handsranchks.com/ranch-store/.

Here are some pictures of Stormy over the years. I didn’t have as many of her as I thought I did becasue she doesn’t really hang out with the other goats. Almost all of my photos of her are of her taking care of her babies which shows how good of a mama she is. We love Stormy and hope to have her around for several more years!

Categories
Agriculture Finnsheep Goats Hair sheep Livestock Sheep Winter

Winter Chores

Winter finally showed up this week with cold, snowy, windy weather. Before this week, we’ve had a few cold days and some light snow but nothing too bad. This week has been and next will be extremely cold with highs anywhere from -2 to low teens. The windchills though are dangerously low at -25ish. I want to share how we prepare our livestock for the winter weather. Preparing for winter begins towards the end of Fall before the first hard freeze.

The first thing is making sure that everyone has a shelter from the north wind. The Finnsheep flock (and any smaller or older hair sheep) has access to the old limestone barn. It is built into a hill and on the south side of our shed so it is pretty warm. The goats are all in smaller pens that have south-facing three-sided sheds in them. Each of these sheds has round bales stacked behind them during the winter. This provides an amazing amount of warmth in the sheds. Goats hate the cold weather and these sheds are the warmest we have when the bales are on the north side of them.

The hair sheep flock also has a south-facing three-sided shed in their paddock as well as access to a few other small sheds. Our chickens and ducks are in a large coop and have protection from the wind as well. Lane is also very good about giving the chickens warm water a couple of times a day. Chickens and ducks are amazingly resilient when it comes to the cold weather as long as they can get out of the wind.

Every tank has a heater in it to keep the water from freezing. They work great but a thin layer of ice will sometimes still form on the water when it gets to the single-digit temps. A thin layer of ice is still much better than trying to break through thick ice several times a day! We do not have automatic water tanks on our farm (hopefully someday!) so for now we have to drain the hose every time we use it. If it doesn’t get drained or too much water is sitting at the end of it, the hose has to come into the house and sit in the shower until it thaws….not fun!

During the winter, we feed brome hay to all the sheep, goats, and horses. When it is colder than usual they all get extra hay. The extra hay helps their rumens to generate more body heat. All horses and Finnsheep receive grain and the goats get some alfalfa pellets. Most of the time the hair sheep are very hardy and don’t need the extra calories.

The Finns need the extra calories from grain when they are pregnant because they have such high rates of multiples. Last year, we had a set of healthy quads and several sets of triplets and attribute their health to adding grain to their diet in the winter when they are bred. We learned the hard way a couple of years ago that bred Finns need extra calories to grow all those healthy lambs. Some day, I will share more about the lessons we have learned going from hair sheep to Finns.

There are a few animals here that love the cold. The livestock guardian dogs are built for this weather. They have access to shelter but will rarely use it. Snow days are their favorite days and will spend a lot of time running, digging, chasing, and playing when it’s this cold out. We also offer them extra food in the winter.

Winter is not my favorite because I hate putting on all of the layers to go outside. Once we get out, it’s usually not too bad unless the wind is blowing hard that day. We are moving fast enough, that I am usually sweating by the time we finish everything. This week, the 20-40 mph wind does make your face hurt.

Chores are harder in the winter and require more work on our part. However, if I am being completely honest I don’t mind them that much because it forces me to get outside when I would otherwise not go out willingly. The physical labor of loading and unloading small square bales of hay multiple times a day helps to keep me strong. Plus, I know that right around the corner is springtime. And with spring comes my favorite season on the ranch, kidding and lambing!

Categories
Goat Milk Lotion

January’s Featured Product

Welcome to 2024! We will be starting a new featured product spotlight every month. This will come out the first week of every month and will give you information about the product and a discount code to use if you purchase it.

January’s featured product is our Goat Milk Lotion. By now many people who are experiencing winter temperatures have dry and itchy skin from the cold, dry weather. Our creamy, goat milk lotion, made with only natural ingredients, is perfect for winter skin. We offer a variety of scents as well as unscented.

Goat milk provides several benefits to skincare products. It is a gentle cleanser and helps to maintain your skin’s natural moisture. Goat milk is rich in nutrients such as vitamins and minerals as well as helping to reduce inflammation. It can even help to reduce wrinkles and acne while soothing dry, damaged skin. The benefit that was most important to me though was that it is less allergenic than products containing synthetic ingredients.

Several years ago, I experienced skin issues that included itchy, dry skin, and rashes. It felt like my skin was itching on the inside. Looking for relief, I went down the rabbit hole of natural skincare products. When I discovered goat milk products and the benefits from them, it seemed like a natural solution since we were already raising dairy goats.

This led to a lot of research and trial and error when I began to make my soaps and lotions. The relief from the skin issues I had been having was almost immediate after I began to use our products daily. My skin was no longer itching inside or out, no more rashes, or dry skin. I have experimented with adding synthetic fragrance oils to my lotions and that will make all of the symptoms flair up again. For that reason, you will never find synthetic fragrance oils used to scent our products. We promise to always use the best, most natural ingredients we can find so that our products are great for all skin ages and types.

If you are looking for a more natural skincare option for your skin, I encourage you to check out our Goat Milk Lotion. During January, we will be giving a 10% discount on all purchases of our lotion. Just use the code featuredproduct23. It cannot be combined with other coupons.

We hope you enjoy our Goat Milk Lotions!

Categories
Uncategorized

Life

“It is hard to know where God will lead us to next. But always have an open heart to let Him guide your steps in His ways.” Wise words texted to me a couple of weeks ago from a dear friend who always says what we need to hear.

The last two weeks have been really hard. We have had several things happen that have caused a lot of anxiety and stress. It took a few days to be able to step back from it all and begin to think about the next steps.

Sometimes life is just hard. Plans don’t work out, people suck, people don’t mind their own business, sheep won’t stay where they belong, family gets sick, etc. Just when we start to think we are in control and know what we are doing something happens to remind us that we are not the one in control.

Over the years, I have discovered a few things that help me to cope with situations. The first is my husband. We are a team and when life is hard, we need to be on the same page, even if it is just venting to each other at first. Taking time to talk, pray, and work through it together always helps.

Second, find some humor. Our family uses a lot of sarcasm and humor to deal with pretty much everything. It helps to break the tension and it is how we connect with each other. However, you do have to know when it is appropriate to use and when it’s not.

And third, pray, pray, and pray some more. It is hard to give up our perceived control over situations and our family, even though that is what we are called to do. God promises to take care of us. He does not promise to make our lives easy. I struggle a lot with giving up control and fulling trusting God and His plan.

I have been pondering the words above from our friend since he sent them as I try to remember to keep an open heart so I can let Him guide my steps.

Categories
Goats Homestead

Colton and Holly

This is a story I have been meaning to write for a long time but I am just now sitting down to write it. It is the story of a goat kid that I gave up on however, Colton did not.

Holly was born a twin to one of our favorite does, Reeses on April 29, 2020. Reeses had always been a good mama and taken care of her babies without any help from me. This time though, she wanted nothing to do with the pretty, little milk chocolate colored doeling laying on the ground.

After a closer inspection and attempting to get the baby up to nurse we discovered that her back legs didn’t work. I am a firm believer that animals know when something isn’t right with their babies and their instinct is to just leave them to die. We have seen this several times on our farm – survival of the fittest.

Colton was upset and wanted to know if there was anything we could do to help her. I will admit I am not patient enough to dedicate time to rehab animals like this and most of the time I take the side of nature will do its thing. I told Colton if he helped me get her some colostrum he could try to save her.

Getting Reeses to let her nurse was easier said than done! Animals are smart and they know when you are trying to “trick” them into doing something they don’t want to do. In order for Holly to nurse, I had to hold Reeses in the corner against the wall with my body and hold Holly up to her udder while Colton helped her find the teat to nurse. Thankfully Holly was able to get enough colostrum to get her digestive system going.

We put her in a little pen with her brother and mama hoping Reeses would take her. After several checks, it was obvious that Reeses wasn’t going to claim her. It was also clear that her back legs weren’t starting to function yet. So we did what I always say I won’t do, and brought her into the house.

Colton fixed up a little box with a towel and we milked another goat so we could start feeding her a bottle. We put a milk jug of hot water in the box with her several times a day to imitate the warmth of laying against her mom. He was told that he would have to care for her and work with her back legs by moving them in a walking motion several times a day. At the time Colton was only 8 years old but agreed to care for and exercise her.

This went on for a day or two, the goat in my kitchen or garage depending on the temperature, with Colton caring for her by bottling feeding, cleaning the box out, and doing therapy with her legs. By the second day, it didn’t look like she was making any improvements so I asked Lance to “take care of her.” I know this sounds harsh and cruel but the reality is that without the use of her back legs, she would not have had a healthy or good life. It is also expensive to feed a goat that never gives you anything back in the form of kids to sell, meat, or milk.

We decided to give her another day or two with Colton’s therapy. The next morning, we woke up to her STANDING in her box hollering for her bottle! Needless to say, there was a very excited 8-year-old in our house that day! It was amazing to see her move around like a goat should and not just lay there with limp legs. I wish I had taken photos but I really didn’t think she would make it so I didn’t take very many.

Holly got to stay in the house for another day until it was obvious that she wanted to move around more than the box would allow her to. So we moved her back out to the barn with the rest of the goat kids. We attempted to get Reeses to take her again but even after forcing her to let Holly nurse several times she still refused to take her. It didn’t matter to Holly though since she was used to a bottle, she was just happy to be with the other goats and it didn’t take long for her to start running and playing.

Holly grew at the same rate as the rest of the goats. Her confirmation or structure is definitely not the best in our herd but Colton took her to the fair anyway because he was so proud of her. When she was a year and a half old we put her in with the buck to get bred. Unfortunately, she didn’t breed that year and once again we had the conversation about not being able to keep a livestock animal as a pet because they have to be contributing something to the farm.

After a couple of conversations with Colton, it was decided that we would give her one more chance to get bred the next year. Thankfully, this spring she had a pretty, black and white doeling we named Ivy. Holly was also the best milker we had this year. If you visit our ranch store here on our website, Holly’s milk is in our Goat Milk Soaps and Lotions. Obviously, Holly and Ivy are now favorites and will always have a place in our herd.

Colton has reminded me several times that he has saved Holly twice now when I was ready to give up on her. I had to admit that he was right and that maybe I would listen to him next time he thinks we should try a little longer with an animal. Unfortunately, I still haven’t learned that lesson well but the story of Snowy, the lamb, is for another day…..

Categories
4-H

Why We Are A 4-H Family

In honor of our county fair officially starting today, I thought I would reshare this from a social media post I made a couple of years ago with a few additions.

We are a third-generation 4-H family, so 4-H is something our family has done for a long time. When a family participates in an organization for that long it must be good!

We do 4-H because of the relationships our kids have developed with people of all ages, people that care about them and want them to succeed not only in the show ring but outside of it too.

We do 4-H because you won’t find better kids to be role models. I love watching the kids interact with the younger members and allow them to “help” do chores or get livestock ready.

We do 4-H for the opportunities to learn from each other. It is fun to watch the kids all teach each other how to show a species that is new to them.

We do 4-H to meet new people. Lane made a friend at the fair and was so happy to learn that he was homeschooled too – they met because they were both showing sheep. Those connections are important. Update – these kids were running around together by 9:30 this morning so they are still friends!

We do 4-H because we can do it as a family. I have been involved with 4-H most of my life and I still learn something new right alongside the kids because of a 4-H project every single year.

We do 4-H because there is a project for every kid, no matter what they are interested in or they can enroll in self-determined and make it a project. Our kids have shown almost every animal, taken legos, computer science, welding, photos, clothing, geology, wildlife posters, cooking, etc.

We do 4-H because we see a lot of value in the skills our family has gained over the years such as public speaking, completing a project, working through frustrations, how too correctly run a meeting, caring for animals, responsibility, interacting with the public, presentation & photography skills, how to win & lose gracefully, caring for your larger community, mentoring others, starting a business with livestock or selling eggs, you can work hard & have fun, and so many other positive lessons & skills.

4-H has been a big part of our lives for a long time and we can’t imagine it any other way.

If you are looking for a positive, family-friendly program to join or support, I encourage you to look into your local 4-H organization to find a club that is a good fit for your family.

Categories
Garden Homestead

Garden 2023

Every winter when the seed catalogs begin arriving in the mail I start dreaming about what the garden could be. It’s so fun to read about the different varieties and see all the flowers. There are endlesspossibilities of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers to choose from.

Seeds arrived in March and plants started arriving in April giving me spring fever along with them! It is so hard to be patient and just plant the things that must be planted early while being patient for the rest.

I have slowly been getting the garden ready and planted for the last several weeks. This year, I am taking my time getting it done and doing it exactly how I want it instead of hurrying and then being mad at myself for how it looks. Yes, I plan my garden based on how it will look if I can keep it all weeded, as well as which plants are good companions for each other. Keeping my garden weeded always seems to be an issue though, year after year…..this will be the year that I keep up with it all!

Our garden is actually 12 beds made from cedar tree trunks from the trees we cut down in our yard. Each year I rotate what is planted in them. Lance and the kids used old hog panels to build an arch trellis between each bed for plants to climb up. I love how it looks when the tomatoes and pumpkins are growing up it!

This year, I decided to only plant the things I know I can grow, with the exception of watermelon because I just can’t give up on it yet. The garden consists of 24 tomato plants, 12 sweet pepper and 2 jalapeƱo pepper plants, a lot of potatoes, several sweet potatoes, lots of onions, butternut squash (Colton asked that we plant a lot of this!), zucchini, bush beans, cucumbers, watermelon, and several pumpkin/winter squash varieties. Everything is planted except for the pumpkins and some of the winter squash. Then as soon as the seedlings are up we will lay down thick paper with straw on top of it to help keep the weeds under control. The paper will break down over time and the straw will compost nicely into the soil improving it while it does. We also put a couple of wheelbarrows full of manure in each bed before planting to help our soil.

We also added to our orchard this year by adding 3 apple trees and 2 pear trees to the peach trees. Two grape vines flank the archway gate. Two-year-old Blueberry and elderberry bushes are also in the yard. I am looking forward to the year we can harvest from all of them too!

I believe that every garden needs flowers in it as well not only to help attract more pollinators but also because I love flowers. Once the plants are all up and we have them mulched well, I will transplant some marigolds and zinnias from one of the flower beds (I have several flower beds but those will be another post for another day!) into the garden beds since they will need to be thinned out anyway.

The goal for this year is to be able to harvest and preserve as much as we can from it so I only planted what I have had success with before. We would like to provide at least a quarter of the tomatoes, salsa, spaghetti sauce, and pickles we eat each year. We also go through a lot of squash and potatoes so it would be nice to have a good amount of those stored away for the winter too. If you have any recipes for preserving any of the things in our garden please send them! I would love to can a variety of recipes to see what we like best.

If you have a garden or flower beds, I hope you have abundant rain, plenty of sunshine, and no bugs except the good ones!

Categories
Finnsheep Goats Hair sheep Sheep Spring

Spring

Everything outside feels so alive and vibrant this time of year! I love watching the world wake up after winter. There are so many things I want to do outside right now since it is so nice. It is hard for me to focus and complete one task before moving on to another one tempting me when there are so many things to do.

Colton was very excited that the goat kid numbers ended up being 4 doelings and 3 bucks. One doe still hasn’t kidded that should have. She is starting to look like she might be bred so I am hoping the buck just bred her late.

We are currently having the slowest start to lambing that we have ever had. It is so frustrating! They were due to start on May 4, but so far just over half are done lambing. We have had more ewe lambs so far too! The sheep flock was culled pretty hard last fall because we finally decided exactly what our goal was for it so now we will rebuilding our numbers. All of the ewe lambs will make that process go faster!

The first ewe to lamb seems to always be a Finn. This year was no different. Ewe 049 gave us triplets, 2 ewe lambs, and 1 ram lamb! My favorite Finn ewe also had triplets and all 3 are ewe lambs! They are the prettiest little brown lambs. We’ve even had a set of quads! This is the first time we have had a set of quads (3 ewes & 1 ram) all survive. The smallest one is getting a bottle twice a day. Having a bottle lamb makes Kinzie very happy!

Four hair ewes have lambed so far with singles. All of them have been first-time mamas and have done a great job of taking care of their babies. The bonus is that all 4 are ewe lambs!

The shearer came a few weeks ago. Shearing day is always exciting and a little nerve-wracking for me. Raising wool sheep is still new enough that I am working to figure out the correct management program for them, especially in regard to their feed. The hair sheep do not need any grain and do just fine condition-wise through the winter and pregnancy. Our Finnsheep however, seem to need grain through pregnancy. After shearing this year, I was very pleased with how the Finnsheep ewes looked. All of them are in much better condition than in previous years so I think I have found the right feed combination for them.

Most of the wool seems to be nice too. Of course, a few of them appear to really like the burr patches which makes skirting their fleeces difficult! I am working my way through the fleeces so they can be delivered to the fiber mill for processing. Working through the wool helps to give me an idea of which ram I want to keep based on the types of wool his lambs are producing. I now have a better plan for who to keep for this fall’s breeding season.

The garden and flower beds are calling my name. I usually wait until around Mother’s Day to plant most things because this is Kansas and the weather can be crazy. I do have a few things planted but will be working to get most planted over the next couple of weeks. My Iris’ are beautiful this year. While at Home Depot last weekend, I picked up a few flowers to add to a flower bed I am redoing. I love the hot pink daisies and the coreopsis. The most exciting garden-related thing we have done is finally put in an orchard. I have 4 peach trees, 3 apple trees, and 2 pear trees! I am so happy about our little orchard!

The kids and I have been working to add manure from the barns to each bed so it is taking us longer to get everything prepared. It was definitely time to give all the beds a boost and the barns need cleaning out.

We wrapped up our bookwork for homeschool at the end of April. The kids learn so much outside this time of year between helping with the livestock, working in the garden, mowing/trimming for their great-grandma and at our house, identifying plants coming up, taking care of pastures, etc.

We have been blessed with rain the last few weeks. Our pond was very close to being completely dry and now it is overflowing. The vibrant green of the world that follows rain always amazes me. The grass in our pastures was struggling but is already starting to grow nicely. The sheep want to be put out to grass so bad but there just hasn’t been enough yet. They are tired of being fed hay!

I hope you are having a good spring as well and have a chance to enjoy this time of year outside!