Monday, March 29, 2010

The End

Well, the last weekend of March was beautiful. A little rain, but balanced with some sun and warmer temperatures. Saturday, thanks to family, we got our hay barn finished.

Next thing I need to do is order some gravel to place inside of the barn, just a few minor checks and adjustments and it is ready to put hay in, however, our tractor is currently residing inside the barn.

Sunday, I took my Working goat project group for a short hike. It's the first hike for this year, so we all have lots of conditioning to do with our goats. Three of the kids have kinder wethers for their pack animal and the fourth (my son Tyler) has a 1/2 Kinder and 1/2 cashmere wether which was our first bottle baby. The three black ones are from a set of quads I raised last year on a bottle, the fourth I sold for a breeding buck. This is the start of our hiking and packing season, for the rest of the summer, we have adopted a trail from the Missouri Conservation Dept. which we will check and maintain monthly. May and possibly September the pack group will have an over night campout there.

Last year was my first campout with goats, roughing it", in a tent, with no bathrooms or running water. It was an experience for all, I read a lot on North American Packgoat Assoc. website, then I had to convince the other goat people goats could be tethered safely on a picket line or on individual stakes. One person offered to bring their trailer to put the goats in over night, but I did point out that most would have their mode of transporting their own goat there and could use that if needed. All goats were staked out overnight with no problems or anything close to a problem. I had mine staked as close to my tent door as I could without them stepping on the tent or chewing on the tent, or soiling tent in some manner. They talked to me until quiet late that night but eventually we all got some rest. As much as you can in a sleeping bag on hard packed dirt, in a tent with two young boys and a tent full of young girls next door.

Since the doeling who arrived a week ago Sunday, there have been four more babies this week, two sets of twins both sets of boy/girl and both out of my young buck THF Snickerdoodle. I decided on the name, Tiramisu, for my first doeling, the next buckling looked just like his daddy so I have named him Caboodle, he is with his mom but mom misplaced his sister and being a first time mom didn't realize she had two babies to care for, so Ginger Snap is in the living room when my husband isn't cuddling with her on the couch or feeding her a bottle.
Here's a picture of the proud new daddy, THF Snickerdoodle.
This Saturday, April 3, will be opening day at the Boone County Farmer's Market. I have to be there to set up by 7:00 a.m. No sleeping in this weekend either. I will get to celebrate Easter with my husband and my in-laws and then Monday, April 5 my hubby leaves for the armory in Lebanon, MO to get ready to mobilize to Iran for approximately 12 months sometime in the next few weeks. Looks like it will be a very busy summer. Happy kidding all, and look me up at the Kinder Shows this year. Montgomery County Fair in June and MO State Fair in August.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

This has been a wild weekend. Friday with beautiful weather we started our hay barn. We are putting up a hoop shelter to store hay in this year. We had been using tarps as we've needed more hay storage but this year we lost half of our hay to mold and mildew. So we are setting up a hoop barn for next year. We got our frames up Friday and our family came Saturday to give us a hand, unfortunately, one who was there was Mother Nature and she brought snow! Not really helpful. But we made good progress, hopefully next weekend we'll be able to get the barn finished.

Friday night, while my husband, father-in-law and brother-in-law continued work on the barn; I headed to Columbia for a meeting with the Boone County Farmer's Market. I took a sample of my soap and lotion hoping to get their approval to become a vendor, which I did. Our Boone County Farmers Market opens on Saturday, April 3 in Columbia and continues through October. I am really excited about the market but will need to get even busier getting soap and lotion made, which I worked on again this weekend. I am still letting my does nurse their babies, so I am using milk I have frozen from last year. When I first started making soap I bought my oils (lard, olive oil, and coconut oil) from Wal Mart and the lye from Lowe's. I bought essential oil for fragrence from a health food store and a soap mold from a craft store, with that I experimented with different recipes, different techniques, and continue today trying new ideas. My last mold I bought on Ebay, but I also now have found online stores that are cheaper for buying in bulk and I am now purchasing my coconut oil in 50 pound buckets. Bramble Berry is a favorite site for supplies and ideas as is Whole Sale Supplies Plus and Soapers Choice for supplies. It's getting close to time to place another order, if you notice the square, plastic container with the spigot in the back of the picture is getting pretty low, that's my 50 pound conainer for olive oil.
I also held a project meeting this afternoon for my 4-H group to work on our demonstration for pack goats which they will present at our April 1 club meeting.

Tonight, when we went out to feed, I found a new baby. My second group is beginning to kid. Paddy-Wack was bred to Snickerdoodle and she had a beautiful daughter this afternoon, I'm thinking maybe Creme Brulle' for her name.
So goes another weekend, certainly never dull.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Making Goat Milk Soap

Well it was perfect weather for staying in and working on my soap this weekend. I made several batches in January and February preparing for this summer when I hope to have a booth at a local farmers market. I let my soap cure a minimum of six weeks before using it. This allows the lye to reach a safe Ph. level and the bar to harden. Now I have approximate 12 batches that have cured and it is time to trim and wrap to get ready to sell. I am experimenting with different molds to find something that will give me a nice 4 ounce bar everytime. Here are my latest ones, they are made from a food grade plastic which the soap doesn't harm while in saponification (this step gets really hot) and I don't have to put a liner in the mold to remove the soap from the mold. With the wooden molds I use either plastic trash bags or freezer paper to line but both have drawbacks. The plastic trash bags leave wrinkles in the corners and the freezer paper is more expensive and more time consuming.
I have been making soap for about four years. I gotbought my first kinders in 2005 and started making soap in 2006. I was very hesitant to make it because the first thing I read on every book or article telling "How to" make soap, was the warnings and cautions of the dangers of working with lye. Finally after reading, Anne Watson's book "Smart Soapmaking" I jumped in and gave it a try. Once I began using my home made soap, with the milk from my own goats I have not used anything else. It is fun trying different oils and fragrences for different benefits. Olive oil makes your soap harder, coconut oil provides a nice lather, and of course different essential oils offer their own benefits. There are many websites with recipes and directions on how to make soap so if you haven't tried it, I highly recommend it. It doesn't require a lot of goat milk and the finished product feels wonderful and your friends and family will enjoy receiving it as gifts.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cart Training Your Goat

Training your goat to pull a cart is fun and useful. Pulling a cart is not hard, driving a cart requires two people who both love working with goats, the same amount...Training to pull a cart, first introduce the harness to your goat, put it on him and walk him around. Practice stopping and starting with voice commands, give lots of praise and treats when he responds with the correct behaviour and keep lots of patience when he doesn't understand or feel like doing it right now. Introduce the cart by letting him sniff of it, pull the cart on one side of you and lead the goat on your other side, this will get him accustom to the sound the cart makes moving and he'll get used to it being close. When the cart rolling beside him doesn't bother him, you can hook the cart to your goat. Just for cautions sake, have a second person there to help unhook in case the goat gets frightened. One person to hold and calm the goat and the other to unhook the cart. If your goat has accepted the training so far, you probably won't have any trouble but always a good idea to be safe. When the goat is pulling the empty cart comfortably, you can begin adding weight in the cart. Use common sense about what you put in, things that rattle go slowly and praise lavishly with treats. When your goat is full grown and in condition they can pull about 1 and a half times their weight. If you have a young goat, keep the load light, up to 3/4 of their body weight. The main things to remember, take the training slowly, repeat each step several times before moving on to the next step, keep it fun and give lots of praise and rewards. You will be rewarded with a goat who is useful and enjoys working. Zack helps me move haybales, bags of feed, fire wood and give kids rides all for peanuts.

Now what I mean by driving being different from pulling. Driving is done when one person is riding in the cart or is behind the goat, giving commands and the goat is responding correctly. Normally the goat is being led when he is just pulling and if he is not pulling my weight he can pull more of whatever chore we are doing. But, it is lots of fun riding in the cart being pulled by your goat. So to train, it really takes two people to get started. After your goat is wearing the harness without problems you will need someone up by his head cueing his response to your verbal command for "giddy up" and "whoa" turning. First tell your goat what you want him to do and if he doesn't do it have the other person cue him with a lead rope and reward the response. Then do it again, tell him what you want wait a second if no response the other person cues and rewards. Keep the lessons short and frequent, daily would be best. When your goat is comfortable with the commands, gradually have your helper get futher and further away until they are not needed. Practice starting stopping and turning, then add the cart. You will need the helper back when you introduce the cart for safety, for the first couple of times.

Now my personal experience with Zack and driving. He will follow along with me without a lead, so kids can hold the reins but I have to be there to guide him. Zack doesn't respond to my family as well as he does for me and I can't lead and give the drive commands at the same time. Also, my family does not have as much fun leading Zack as I do in the cart. I think you see where I am going with this...However, I have a lot of fun working with Zack so I enjoy just leading him while he pulls for me.

Friday, March 5, 2010

What a beautiful and glorious day! I hope everyone was able to enjoy it. It will be a quiet weekend here, my sons are with their father and my dear hubby is away at National Guard drill, I will be on my own. While doing the evening chores tonight, I was making notes of "to dos" that are waiting for me. Barns to be cleaned, hooves to trim, vaccinations to give... then I need to start conditioning Zack with walks and weights, training Scout for packing, making soap and lotion. At this rate my "need to dos" are crowding my "have to dos" and I won't get to my "want to dos" until late summer, maybe.... Tomorrow will be an early day, in the morning I am taking my 4-H dairy and working goat members to a local goat dairy where they make gourmet goat cheese. After that back home and barn cleaning, yea ...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Almost Spring

Finally March is here which surely means spring isn't too far behind. I have had enough snow,ice, slush, and mud...Bring on the flowers and green grass and leaves. My name is Leah Rennick, I live in Hallsville, Missouri which is just 10 miles north of Columbia and I raise Kinder goats. The big gray wether I am scratching in the picture is Zack, he is my packgoat and a real sweetheart. And really "My" packgoat because he doesn't listen to the rest of my family too good.

This is my husband, Craig. He was raised a city boy which I have transplanted to the country. I bought our first Kinder goats while he was deployed to Iraq in 2005. Craig is a Staff Sargeant in the National Guard reserve and we are getting ready for his second deployment to Iraq. He will be leaving in April so we are rushing this month to raise a hay shelter before he goes. My oldest son, Tyler, is 14 and you can see him here lending a foot.

Tyler, is in 4-H, and has started his own Kinder herd. He bought his first doe, Bramble Patch Kinders Ebony's Reflection, from Sue Huston. "Ebby" is a beautiful black doe and her first year had twin black bucklings. Tyler decided he wanted a second doe to increase his herd and he wanted a light colored doe for variety. Last year we looked and finally found a doe, Still Meadow Flower Blossom. However, they would only sell her if we took her twin sister also. Her sister was beautiful, so I bought her, then found out she was pregnant. I bought one of her babies also to keep as a second packgoat. So, Tyler's goat cost me two additional goats. We bred Ebby was to our buck, Tickleweed Hill Farm Treat and they produced two beautiful does this past January, one Tyler is keeping and the other I am keeping. Below is Tyler pictured with the doeling he is keeping. Please notice the very light creamy white color.

This is Justin, my 10 year old son. He is in my 4-H Working Goat project. He has a Kinder wether which he is training to be a packgoat. He is also thinking about buying a Kinder doe to start raising his own Kinders.

I raise Kinders and sell them for breeding stock, companions, and market. I use the milk for home use, but mostly I make cold process goat milk soap and goat milk lotion. I sell the soap and lotion both retail off the farm and whole sale through a small flower and gift shop locally. I have made some cheese, but really love making the soap and lotion.

I am looking forward to being the March blogger and sharing my love of the Kinder goat and how I spend time with my goats with you. For now, it's time to call it a day and get some sleep...

Almost Spring