Monday, November 29, 2010

Eagle Visits Red Fence Farm

Do Eagles Eat Goats?
We had a visitor to the Red Fence Farm this beautiful clear day in Palmer, Alaska. I'm not sure if this eagle was resting or trying to get an easy meal at our farm, maybe one of our many animals. The bald eagle  is a member of the sea and fish eagle group. Even though they are fish eaters, they will take ducks and birds or whatever prey is available and easiest to obtain. prey includes rabbits, hares, raccoons, muskrats, beavers, and deer fawns. That includes chickens, goats and all sorts of baby animals.  Bald Eagles have powerful talons and have been recorded flying with a 15-pound Mule Deer fawn. There are reports of small dogs being snatched from the ground and flown away. Not sure that I believe that or not. I do know that I needed to get rid of this predator in hurry. See how we did it. Enjoy this short slide show, we took all of the photos.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Alaskan Short Days - Give Me More Sun

  Darn it's Dark!
Can you live with only about 5 hours of daylight each day? In Alaska, where my family and all of our four legged animals live, we have about 19 hours of darkness each Winter day and 5 hours of what us Alaskans call daylight. It's not really sunshine, it's more like someone turned on a filtered light for a few hours just to tease us. I love Alaska but everyone here has to make adjustments. I'm a farmer, I need light, so I create light, every way I can. Cheap Christmas lights that I buy at the end of the holidays on December 26. Walmart deals on winter close-outs, patio lights and anything I can get that is low power, high lite. Please come visit the Henry's at the Red Fence Farm, during the winter it looks a lot like the Alaskan  version of Las Vegas.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to All of You Goats

Thank Goodness Turkeys are Preferred Over Goats!

There was a time, not long ago, that goats were the special invited culinary guests to the Thanksgiving feast. Everyone knows about ham and turkey complimented with dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy. Pumpkin pie and lots of sweets. In the late 1600's the Plymouth colonists celebrated the Thanksgiving, and were gobbling up many more foods than just turkey. Lobster, goose, duck, seal, eel, and cod were plentiful during this time, these foods were  the main courses of this early feasts. Deer meat and wild goat were also plentiful and were on the menu of this autumn celebration.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Goat Butter, Nothing Better

You have to have cream to make butter.

After I milked my Jersey cow, I would simply strain the milk, put it in a ½ gallon jar and place it in the refrigerator to cool. The next morning I could easily skim off the cream and start making butter right away.
The milk jars are from Valley Farms
Not with goats. Goat cream is thick, and because its molecules are smaller than those of cow cream, it suspends differently in the milk. Goat cream must be mechanically separated, as only a little will rise to the top of a container of milk. If you have milk goats, and plan on turning the cream into butter for all your baking and bread-slathering needs, a cream separator is a MUST. My separator is mechanical, hand operated, not electric and it works just fine. To make butter, goat cream requires more "thrashing" than does cow cream might, and the jar-shaking method of making butter from cream may prove unreliable. I have used all of these antique butter churns pictured but the best I have found for making goat butter is a blender, the same thing I use to make my margaritas.

Home Made Bread - Goat Milk

Goat Milk Bread is the Best

I have been making home made bread since I was a young man. I didn't have a mixer, a bread machine or even a thermometer. We barely had electricity. Some of the bread I made was eatable, the other loaves were barely tolerable. I cooked for 6 brothers and sisters and they seemed to like it just fine. It's all we had to eat with the pot of beans mom would make. It didn't matter how bad the bread was, you could always soak it in the bean juice.  I am now a premier bread maker and so is my daughter, Phoebe, since we have been using goat milk to substitute for cow milk, powder milk and even water. The high quality milk produced from our Nigerian Dwarfs and delivered by the Henry Milker is the difference in OK bread and the best bread you have ever tasted. Make some bread tomorrow and use only goat milk as the liquid, you will thank me!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Goats and Chickens Great Team

Phoebe Henry & Millie
Can't They All Just Live Together?
(Guest Author - Phoebe Henry)
Lately I have been seeing many farm articles saying that goats and chickens should not live together.  In fact many goat owners say they should not be put in the same barn.  When I read this I was so surprised.  I have grown up with chickens, goats, horses, dogs, and sheep living in peace. But then I thought, I guess this makes sense.  That pesky chicken poop seems to be everywhere and lets face it, it’s smelly and hard to clean up.  
Chickens always seem to be in your way and the little clucking noise can get very annoying when you hear it every day. Or if you are a person like me and just gets creeped out by the look of the animal.  Still these are just small, annoying problems and I don’t understand what the big deal is about chickens and goats living together. If anything  I think that the relationship between the goat and chicken is helpful.
I was watching my chickens and goats and I just could not wrap my head around what the big deal was.  In fact I thought that maybe the chickens and goats shared the symbiotic relationship of commensalism.  The goats drop their grain everywhere and then the chickens come up and eat it.  So there you have it, a commensalistic relationship. The more I observed,  the two animals could share a mutualistic relationship.  The chickens eat the bugs that are buzzing around the goat's pen.  The goats are saved from mosquitos and flies and the chickens get a tasty snack. I think that chickens and goats should live together at the very least for companionship.  I know that my goats would be very lonely without their little chicken friend.  I don’t think the chickens are causing any real problems.  They are actually helping with the clean up by eating all the dropped grain.  And who doesn’t like having to do less clean up? I think that chickens should be able to live with goats. Whether as a companion or to help keep the amount of bugs around your goats down. The animals seem to make a good match.

Does Your Goat Milk Taste Like Your Goat?

Make the Goaty Taste Go Away

Acceptable milk odor and taste is probably the single most important standard of goat milk. Goat milk has a  widespread negative perception of being "goaty." In fact, the national U.S. dairy products judging procedures list "goaty" as one of the four odor characteristics of bad versus good milk. Goaty odor does not need to happen. Goat milking needs to be done with care; if  you use a milking machine or if you do the milking by hand. Well produced and well handled goat milk should be indistinguishable in taste and odor from quality cow milk. 

One of the Henry Milker customers is very happy with the quality of milk from her goat. She recently wrote: "I am milking a large Saanen goat who gives a little over 2 quarts each milking.   I have purchased 2-quart mason jars that work very well. I use a milk stand, and I pack my jar inside a container filled with ice and that is in a bucket with a handle for convenience. I go out with the milker attached and tucked inside the bucket of ice.  The thing that really makes the Henry Milker invaluable to me are 1) cleanliness of the milk, and 2) no more hand stress.   Honestly, I can milk my goat faster by  hand, but using the milker makes our milk taste Sooooo much better.   I sell the milk locally and one lady who has purchased milk before was shocked to find that our milk had no "goat" smell or taste.  Due in part to the milker, and secondly to the ice packed around the milk.  Plus I clean the teats with baby wipes every time. Anyway, we are very happy with the Henry Milker."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hay an Important Roughage For Your Goat

Enough Hay for the Henry Milker Goats for a Year

Quality roughage for your goat is a key to quality milk production and good health. Because goats are ruminants, the majority of feed consumed should be roughage. This includes feeds such as your favorite shrubs, woody plants like your prized fruit trees, and also hay and pasture.

When considering the quality of roughage for goats, a distinction should be made between “poor quality” roughage for cattle and “poor quality” roughage for goats. Goats are not able to digest the cell wall of plants because feed stays in the digestive tract a shorter time. Therefore, plants with thicker cell walls, such as straw, provide almost no nutritive value for goats, but may be sufficient for cattle. However, goats will eat various plants that are not palatable to cattle, such as leaves from trees and shrubs.

The photo shows a bale of alfalfa hay grown and baled in Casa Grande, Arizona. This is quality hay but probably a little too heavy for most goat owners to handle.  It weights about 2,100 pounds, more than a ton. In weight, this bale is equivalent to about 42 bales of hay that I buy for my goats. This bale is bound for an overseas buyer. My brother Don "Mac" Henry is the John Deere rep in Arizona who provides much of the technical expertise in setting these very high tech baling machines up and keeps them pumping out hay.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Does You Goat Have Bad Breath?

I thought I heard my goat burp, then he did it again.

When hay is eaten by your goat, it is chewed up, soaked with saliva, and then swallowed.  After proper chewing and moistening, “the cud” goes down into the first stomach, called the rumen. At this stage the cud is attacked chemically and further digested by micro-organisms.
 At regular intervals the cud is brought back up to the goat’s mouth to be chewed on some more and then swallowed again.  This entire process is called rumination.  If you watch your goat’s neck carefully, you can see it swallow and later regurgitate its cud.  That's when a goat will burp to get rid of the gas produced by all the fermentation going on in its rumen.  If you get close enough, you can really smell the fermentation process on his breath. Burping is good, if a goat is unable to burp up the gases they may become very sick with “bloat”.

Cabra ordeñadora

La historia del  ordeñador Henry ¿Cómo empezó todo
Hola gente, soy Mike Henry.  
Gracias por su interés en el ordeñador Henry. Me gustaría contar acerca de cómo mi máquina de ordeño se produjo. Yo me crié cabras lecheras y después de iniciar una familia en Alaska, he decidido las cabras debe devolver. Empecé con cinco acres y una cierva desagradable llamado Millie.
A los 58 años (y contando, le recuerda a mi hija), estoy seguro que no era un joven retoño más. El ordeño a mano, fue duro en las manos. Millie fue la colocación de tanto alboroto, tal vez yo estaba fuera de la práctica? Después de la enésima patada en balde, los montones de pelo en la leche, el esfuerzo y la esterilización de la leche y tediosa limpieza, pensé que tenía que haber una manera mejor.henry-ordeñador en use.jpgHenry ordeñador milagro
Animado por mi esposa e hija, me puse el overol y se puso a trabajar en el garaje. Después de una semana o así de pequeños ajustes, tuve mi primer ordeñador Henry. Seguro que era crudo, pero me dio hidromasaje con Millie, y diablos, si no tenía un poco de leche!
Paso a paso, he mejorado el ordeñador. Todo el mundo estaba feliz. Millie, mis manos, mi esposa, y mi hija. Empecé a compartir mi invención al venderla en Ebay. Los compradores me envió un montón de grandes elogios y sugerencias grande, y los he aplicado en el ordeñador.
He tenido personas de países de todo el orden mundial del ordeñador Henry para todo tipo de animales, como burros  miniatura, vacas, yeguas, mulas y mucho más.
Mi objetivo es hacer de ordeño agradable y fácil para todos. Me encanta escuchar a la gente de todo el mundo usando el ordeñador Henry. Si tiene cualquier pregunta o sugerencia, por favor envíeme un correo electrónico. Aún mejor, después de un vídeo en YouTube de su cabra y el ordeñador Henry y yo voy a figurar en su página web.

eniviado por Phoebe Henry

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Goat Weekend OFF, Teach your Neighbor or Husband to Milk your Goat

Help is on it's way!
Share your goat milking chores.
We are all slaves to our animals, we think no one can take the care we do in feeding, grooming and especially milking our goats. It is unusual when you can find someone who can learn to milk a goat by hand without several tries; the goat usually is not having fun either.

The Henry Milker can be used by anyone. A child, your best friend or your spouse can be taught to milk your goat with ease and in moments. This finally gives goat owners a break and have someone else do the milking chores. The photo is from a customer  in New Zealand. She wanted to have something for her husband so he could help with the evening milking chores.

Goat Feeding Schedule and Good Health

What are you feeding and how much?

Phoebe at her Feeding Station
Establishing a structured feeding schedule is imperative to your animals' health. By creating a diet specifically tailored to each animal you can easily determine their health and wellness as well as the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of your feed. Additionally, having a documented plan for each animal makes it easier to take that 24 hour vacation every 10 years from your farm!

In our case, we went years just “eyeballing” feed. Our animals stayed healthy but have never been healthier since we took the time to write out each diet and keep records of the changes. We now have more knowledge than ever about the various types of feed available. There are so many choices and becoming aware of what kinds of fillers, additives and mixtures of all helps determine what to feed. Also, if what your animals are eating is not helping to maintain a shiny coat,  you become immediately informed that a supplement is needed. 

Because of our measured methods, we can also do an accurate estimate of how much feed we need to buy each week, month and year. Just ask Phoebe, she has it charted out.

We have set up a feed station and keep our feed organized in bins and tubs. We label everything so as not to confuse the alfalfa pellets with the hay pellets. Those hay pellets have way too much sugar for some of our older equine! We also have measuring cups in each container to make it as convenient as possible when feeding on a busy schedule. We weigh the hay we give and even prepare breakfast the night before so no work clothes are mussed in the morning routine! Our animals are creatures of habit and routine. Make a consistent and dependable feed schedule part of each day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Alaskan Goat Igloos - Goat House.

Goat owners are always looking for a better way, especially if the better way can save some dollars. I believe the "dog igloo house" makes one of the best winter shelters I have found for my Nigerian Dwarf goats. They are inexpensive, easy to clean, light enough to move around and are pretty much goat-proof.

I am a real bargain hunter and enjoy a good yard sale more than I should. I find it difficult to go to sleep each night before I scan Craigslist and make a few offers. All of my igloo goat shelters have been purchased second hand and used. I have never paid more than $30 for an igloo shelter. At that price, I could not make a goat house from wood.

The best thing about the igloos; goats are unable to climb and deposit their little droppings on top. They won't eat these heavy plastic domes and generally don't have fun vandalizing them. The perfect goat house.