This is Life on the Farm and Change is in the Air

| 4/28/2014 8:57:00 AM

Tags: family farm, calving, farm dogs, Florida, Julia Shewchuk,

This was supposed to be, again, Part 2, Fencing and Pasture, of “How to become a Dairy Goat Farmer.” It will not be. Welcome to Life on A Farm – This is Life. Being a small family farmer is not for the faint hearted. Let me bring you up to speed where we are.

Father and Son

Baby Season: Kids, Puppies, Calves

I wrote the last blog on February 25th. That same day we had two does give birth. The first one gave birth to Nubian quadruplets, all healthy and growing, and the second one gave birth to Saanen twins, also all healthy and growing. Then, in the afternoon, a calf was born to one of our Black Angus cows. Then, a little bit later, our Livestock Guardian Dog Athena, decided to give birth as well. She is a bit stand-offish and we had been trying to figure out how to get her into the stall and puppy birthing pool when the time came, but she went in there all on her own. Good girl. Within two hours we had seven healthy puppies. She was licking them, cleaning them and moving around very carefully. We gave her some broth, which she gratefully accepted. We were very happy with seven healthy puppies. At 9:30p, during bed check, she had a contraction and, much to our surprise, out slid number eight. OK, eight puppies. Super. We went to bed. All was quiet. The next morning there were twelve!!!!


All healthy, nursing and dry. It seems that dog birthing is a bit different than goat birthing. Now, eight weeks later, all twelve puppies are still alive, fat and happy, and four have already gone to new homes. These puppies are delightful and it was such a joy to have them. We will keep two to grow up as guardian dogs to take the place of our two retirees. One of them, Sadie, passed away four weeks ago, guarding the chicken pasture with her mate by her side. The next morning, another baby goat was born and we named her Sadie. One life is taken and one life is given.

Taking Stock

During height of kidding season, our farm manager also left unexpectedly which forced us to take stock and re-evaluate. This is a must for any family farm and should be done annually. What are the expenses, what is the income, do we have enough help, are we stretched too thin, where are we going? As is the reality nowadays for any small family farm, the income never covers the expenses and at least one outside income is necessary to run a farm, so no surprise there. We found that we were stretched way too thin, a victim of our own success, and that we had little time left to pursue the education mission of our farm, pursuing projects with the interns to increase sustainability of the farm, and just have some pure old-fashioned fun to putter, bake bread, tend to the garden and read.

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