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
Family Homeschool

Fall 2022 Homeschool

Since we are halfway through the first semester of the school year, I wanted to share a little about our homeschool, the curriculum we are using, changes we’ve made, etc. First a little background, this is our third full year homeschooling. When all kids were sent home in 2021 for the rest of the year it was a blessing for our family. Lance and I loved having the kids home all the time. We spent a lot of time working together outside, playing games, and just being together. When it was time to enroll the kids in school for the next school year, we decided to keep our three youngest home and continue homeschooling. Our oldest two children wanted to go back to public high school, mostly because they love competing in sports.

We had talked about homeschooling the kids off and on for years. I had done all the research and already read several books so we had an idea of what we wanted our homeschool to look like. We just never took the leap to actually do it even though we loved the idea of it. Having all of the kids sent home gave us the chance to give it a try and realize that we loved having the kids at home as much as we thought that we would.

Our first year, we homeschooled by ourselves. There wasn’t a lot of places open or groups meeting because of the virus. Part way through the year, we did end up joining a homeschool group that got together occasionally to let the kids play together. We chose all of our own curriculum which included a lot of reading. The second year, we joined a homeschool co-op that focused on academics so we didn’t get to choose all of our own curriculum. The co-op was a huge blessing for us and it was so nice to do school with others once a week. This year we are still part of the co-op but it has underwent some changes to better fit the families that are there this year. We are currently doing our science, history, and art history at co-op.

So there’s our homeschooling background, now onto what we are doing this year!

Kinzie is using The Good and The Beautiful for language arts, handwriting, and math. We are using the McGuffy Readers for reading and Exploring Nature with Children and lots of time outside for science. She also has plenty of time to play, paint, build, just be a little girl. She also loves helping me with chores around the house right now.

Since we were able to choose all of our curriculum again this year due to changes at our co-op, I asked Lane and Colton which curriculum they wanted to use. They chose to go back to how we had done school the first year which is a mix of Charlotte Mason and classical. We do dictation, copy work, read a lot, morning time, and math at home. They also do more reading or research on various history and science topics. The boys take piano lessons and Lane is teaching himself the guitar. I have also promised the kids to do at least one field trip each month and so far I have been successful!

Lane and Colton are using Memoria Press’, Exploring the World of Astronomy for science at co-op this semester. We haven’t settle on a science topic for next semester yet. Our art history for this year is Ever Ancient Ever New Level 1 from Catholic Heritage Curricula. Surprisingly, Colton says Art History is his favorite subject! We are using Year 2 History from The Good and The Beautiful.

At home we use Salt and Light Catholic Homeschool curriculum by Jane Manka along with the Real Learning book by Elizabeth Foss as the spine for our homeschool when it comes to language arts, literature, catechism, supplementing science and history, as well as how we structured our school. I have also pulled ideas from Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson. Many of the books on their reading lists come from Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt. We use reading, dictation, copy work, narration, or note booking pages for most of our subjects. Lane likes writing and researching so he is always working on some kind of research paper. They also use typing.com to learn how to type correctly.

Half way through last year, I realized that I am not good at teaching math so we joined Nicole Math Lady. The boys are able to watch all of the lessons from their Saxon Math books and do the lessons online. It has been been wonderful not to have to worry about teaching math!

During our morning basket we rotate through books about church history, art history, composers, saints, holidays, etc. We just read a chapter or so a day and then move on to the next book on the next day. Kinzie also does the calendar for the day and we discuss the weather. The kids will sometimes draw or paint while listening. Kinzie’s favorite part of morning time is that I turn on The Doxology by Anthem Lights to tell them that its time to come downstairs so we can start. She loves that song!

A very positive change we made for Colton this year is the addition of note booking pages. He has never liked free writing and has fought me on it every year. I finally decided to have him start using note booking for science and history. It is amazing how much he will write about a subject after he has had the chance to watercolor a picture about the subject at the top of his page. Who knew all it took was a little watercolor painting to get him to write?!?

Something that we have done from the beginning that works great for us, especially Colton, is using a spiral notebook to write all of their tasks in daily. All he has to do is look at his list and mark off each task as he completes it. I also add piano practice and some of the chores they do regularly to their list. Kinzie can’t really read her list but she loves having a list like the big kids.

We have really enjoyed homeschooling and this lifestyle. We have the freedom to learn what and how we want to. Each child is unique and this allows us to tailor their education to their abilities and interests. The kids have a lot of time to explore their interests or spend hours exploring outside every day.

Watercoloring outside
Field trip to the Kansas Museum of History
Colton caught tadpoles in various stages of development this fall.

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions! I love talking about homeschooling and how it has blessed our family!

Resources mentioned in this post. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

        

Salt & Light can be found here https://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1830633?__r=2203525

https://www.goodandbeautiful.com

https://www.memoriapress.com

https://nicolethemathlady.com/

  

Categories
Agriculture Winter

Winter Around the Ranch

Until a couple of weeks ago, we have had a very mild winter. This week temperatures won’t even get above 15 degrees Fahrenheit with windchills below zero. This coming weekend they are forecasting -30 windchills! It appears that all of our winter is happening within a few weeks!

Even though it is frigid outside the animals all still need to be fed and watered daily. We are thankful for warm clothes and a warm house to go into after chores!

I thought I would share some photos from the last couple of weeks. The cold doesn’t seem to impact the animals as much as it does us, as long as they have plenty of food and a place to get out of the wind, so you will see them out in the weather. It really is amazing how God designed each of them perfectly.

And remember, if this cold weather has your skin dry and itchy, we have plenty of our goat milk soap, lotion, & lip balm to help you out in our Ranch Store. We are always making more small batches of soap to try and keep your favorites in stock!

Categories
4-H Agriculture Kansas Livestock Spring

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I love spring and everything about it. I also love summer and fall, and maybe a few things about winter but I really love spring. For me, spring really is the most wonderful time of the year. It is starting to warm up outside (YAY!) and color is finally coming back to the landscape. The browns of winter can be really depressing, especially after looking at them for several months. In spring it appears that everything is waking up and coming back to life. The trees begin to get buds and often it seems that they leaf out or bloom overnight. Each spring rain brings a little more green grass, clover, and flowers into the colors of the landscape.

Here at 14 Hands Ranch, we do most of our kidding and lambing in the spring. All of the babies racing around the pens and pastures makes springtime wonderful and exciting! We are anxiously waiting for our Lamancha goats to kid and sheep to lamb at the end of April/first of May. We feel like following natures natural rhythms with our kidding and lambing gives our livestock a better chance to perform how God created them to. The only exception to this is with our Boer goats. We want them to kid in January or February so that our children can show them at the 4-H fair in July. When we allow nature to work how it is intended the livestock generally can kid and lamb on their own, we don’t have to worry about any babies freezing, we don’t need heat lamps set up, and we are much more eager to spend time with the babies when it is nice outside.

Growing up, my family had a Limousin and Red Angus herd of cattle. We were one of the few in our area that calved in the summer. My dad always said that the cattle were there to work for us, not us work for them. We have adopted that philosophy on our farm as well. This means that we don’t introduce the buck or ram to the females until around Thanksgiving so that we are kidding and lambing in spring.

The other thing that that makes spring so wonderful is that we purchase and bring home all of our 4-H show animals in March and April. We typically start talking to breeders about what they will have available in February or the first of March. So far we have our show pigs, lambs, and bucket calves here. The Boer goats that we purchased will be picked up in a few weeks. There’s something so hopeful and optimistic about a new set of show animals. Everyone has goals and dreams of how they would like their animals to do. It takes a lot of work, discipline, time, dirt, and hard days to get to the end of the summer with the projects. Sometimes, there’s disappointment at the end of the summer because the judge didn’t like your animal on that one day or maybe the animal didn’t grow as well as you had hoped. Sometimes, it’s because the animal wasn’t worked with as much as they should have been. And sometimes, it all comes together and that animal wins the banner. But it all starts out every spring with hope and dreams.

The Corona virus has gave us a lot more time than we would typically have in the spring, so we started working with 4-H animals over the weekend. The pigs were all weighed and walked. This is usually a very chaotic event the first couple of times we let them all out to walk them but this group of pigs have been very calm and well behaved. The sheep were also all weighed and are learning to stand tied. The bucket calves were haltered for the first time. Midnight (the black one) didn’t seem to mind the halter but Sunset fought it the entire time. Violet our Boer/Alpine cross was also weighed and haltered for the first time. She didn’t like the halter either so Colton decided he would just carry her instead until she gets to big for him to carry. It won’t be long and he will have to teach her to lead because she is growing fast. Then he will learn it would have been better to start working with her on leading when she was small! The kids have also started riding the horses to get them back into shape for the summer shows. We also started working on our garden much earlier than we have before. I’m hoping to get a few things planted in it this week before it rains again.

I hope that all of you can find something or many things that bring you joy and hope this spring. Maybe its the green grass, the birds singing again, baby chicks, blue skies, sunshine, baby animals, or the warm weather. Spring has so many things to offer that make it the most wonderful time of the year!

Walking the pigs
Getting the pigs to go into the shed where we have the scale set up.
Hailey spending some time with Molly and the sheep after putting hay out.
Letting Violet walk herself on the halter.
He is so proud of her!
Walking the sheep for the first several times is always hard!
Feeding Sunset her bottle.
Midnight
Sunset did NOT like her halter.
The view on my walk.