Welcome!

Welcome to HighTail Farms, LLC! We're a small farm located in Hammond, Louisiana. We are dedicated to providing people with ethically raised and humanely processed pastured poultry and sheep, fresh eggs, and raw meat for pet food.

Please follow the links in the top bar for more information on our products and their availability. Continue reading below for our blog where we detail the adventures of raisin' animals and whatnot.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Turkey Wash

 The broad breasted white turkeys are growing very quickly. We had them in one of our indoor/outdoor pens, but the rain coupled with the fact that for some reason the commercial breeds of poultry seem to lack the ability to groom themselves resulted in some very nasty and not too white turkeys. I couldn't stand seeing them looking so dirty and bedraggled so I decided to do some thing about it!

 I gathered them all into an x-pen and hosed down the whole lot. A couple hours in the warm summer sun and they were clean, dry, and mostly back to their proper color.

 While I had them penned like this, it seemed like a great time to go ahead and vaccinate these guys against fowl pox. A few weeks ago, we vaccinated our group of heritage turkeys, but at that time I had Big Onion to help. This time I tried to do it on my own.

  Trying to juggle a flapping, kicking, squawking turkey poult, a tiny glass bottle of liquid, and a very sharp lancet with only two hands was a more than a bit of a challenge. I was trying to balance the turkeys on my lap while avoid flying claws and holding out the wing with one hand while using the other to wield the vaccine. It was not going so well.

 Then I remember that poultry will extend their wings and become very calm if held upside down.

 This gave me easy access to the webbing at the top of the wing where the vaccine is given without upsetting the turkey or exposing my flesh to surprisingly sharp young turkey talons.

 Here is a turkey post vaccine. You can see the two little blue/green spots were the lancet loaded with vaccine was inserted.

After everyone was vaccinated, I decided to move the turkeys to one of the pasture pens. This way they have access to grass and bugs and can be easily moved to keep them from needing another hose down. Plus, Rialey thinks it's fun to hang out with her livestock in their new pad.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Gimli on the job

  Gimli, our new dwarf buck, has been out with the girls a few weeks now. When he first got here, we ordered a breeding harness for him. A breeding harness is a slightly indecipherable contraption that has a place on the chest for attaching what amounts to a large crayon. It sits right between the front legs of the goat or sheep and leaves a colored smear on the back end of any of the females that the male...ahem...services. The harness we ordered was made for smaller sheep and goats, but I don't think the creators had dwarf goats in mind when they made this thing.

It took some maneuvering and a few zip ties, but we eventually got the thing securely in place on Gimli's small but very sturdy frame. We chose a yellow crayon because we thought that would be the most visible color on all our various girls' rear ends.

That lip curl is goat talk for, "Damn girl, you so fine!"

Eve was the first to cycle into heat almost immediately after we released Gimli to the girls. By that evening, Eve was sporting a bright yellow butt. We tried our best not to make fun of her tramp stamp.

The following day, Gwen was ready to get into the action, but Eve was still madly in love with our blue eyed boy. What followed was a whole lot of goaty weirdness that involved all three of them jostling each other around and doing things for which I really wish I hadn't had a first row view!


At this point, we are fairly certain that Gimli has had his dwarven way with all the girls except Gertie. He tried is his best, but that big, old lady was just not having it from some pipsqueak of a buck!






At some point, I even saw her mounting him! I'm pretty sure my trying to explain to Gertie that that was not how things were supposed to work in the goat world fell on deaf ears.

The next step is to send off pregnancy tests in a few week to make sure everyone is in a motherly way. Boy are we going to have our hands full come January!


Monday, August 18, 2014

Fun in the Sun


  For the first couple weeks of their lives, baby goats need to be bottle fed every few hours. Doing this is rather difficult when Big Onion and I both have to work our day jobs.

 These pictures are from a day the girls spent with me at my work. You already see Josie's attitude coming out in little Francesca! This one is going to be a handful! 

There is little more fun than watching baby goats run around like little fools!


 Even though they were a surprise, we are totally smitten with these two sweethearts.

The end!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Poults on Dirt

 The broad breasted white turkey poults are growing fast! They moved from the indoor brooder to a raised pen in the poultry house. Last week they were finally big enough to move into one of the enclosures on the ground.

 I just love watching that moment when a bird's feet first touch the ground. It's like they go from being little eating, drinking, pooping machines into being real animals. These little guys immediately started scratching and pecking at the ground. A couple even started taking dirt baths. These birds had never even seen dirt before. How did they know what to do with it so quickly? Isn't instinct an amazing thing!

 It wasn't long before a few of the birds decided to stretch their wings and take a stab at flying.

OK, so it was more like wing-assisted hopping, but it was still rather funny to watch these fat little birds pop into the air one after another! It won't be long until these guys will be roaming the pastures and getting under foot like only teenage turkeys can!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Gimli and Gertie tango

  After he had spent his week in quarantine, it was time to let Gimli out to meet the girls. I let him out of his backyard pen and walked him out to the goat yard where all the goats had just finished breakfast. That crazy boy took one look at the lady goats and made a beeline for Gertie, the biggest, gnarliest, oldest gal we have out there.

  It was love at first sight! Snorting, whooping, peeing, humping, tongue waggling, bug-eyed love. Goat boys are truly ridiculous in their courting rituals.

  Those two started circling like a top, Gimli trying his best to get to Gert's -ahem- business end, and Gertie doing her best to thwart him. And thwart him she did. That girl has obviously been around the block more than once.

 I was busy taking pictures and when I lowered the camera I realized we were surrounded by every other goat in the herd. All this foolishness attracted quite the crowd.

  Amelia even secured herself a front row seat and got comfortable. I tried calling her a pervert, but she didn't seem to care.

  Eve, on the other hand, seemed slightly perturbed at having to watch her mother being courted so lewdly. She eventually pinned her back and walked away saying, "Mom! Ewww!!"

  After about 10 minutes of circling, Gertie decided she had had it, hooked her horn in Gimli's collar, and held him there until he agreed to settle down. I assure you this was no accident. I've seem Gertie use this tactic on Eve when she was young and being too rambunctious. Gert is not a dumb goat.

  The hanging seemed to snapped some sense into Gimli because he stopped chasing tail for long enough to pee all over himself and run around sniffing every other girl in the place, all the while making silly whooping and spitting sounds. I'm telling you, goat boys are ridiculous.

  After watching all that craziness with Gertie, I decided to do something about Gimli's horns before he put someone's eye out. They turn straight out the side and are rather pointy. I didn't have any tools out with me so I improvised some padding using wadded up paper towels and guerrilla tape. This has actually held up really well.

  Gimli never did succeed in wooing Gertie that day. Hopefully he will have better luck with the other ladies!

 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Francesca and Lucia

Early last week, I got the baby girls out for more pictures.

 They are doing great! They are by far the most active, inquisitive, and fastest growing kids we have ever had.

 Poor little Francesca bumped into Sonny, our 13 year old mostly deaf sheltie, while he was sleeping, and he nipped her in the face before realizing what was happening. She ended up with cuts on her nose and the side of her mouth, but both are healing just fine. The wounds didn't slow her ability to put away a bottle of milk like it's nobody's business!

The ever watchful shepherd. 

 Rialey keeps a close eye on her baby goats. She has finally learned that it's ok for them to run around and jump on things and that they don't need constant knocking down and grooming.

 The girls are building up their guts by nibbling on dirt and gnawing on tree stumps. We have a bowl of goat chow and chopped alfalfa for them to munch on in the house. It won't be long before they start really chowing on greens outside.

OK, can we go back in now?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Administering Fowl Pox Vaccine to Turkeys

  In years past, we have had problems with fowl pox and our turkeys. It's a nasty virus that is often spread by mosquitoes that results in uncomfortable sores on the head and neck of the birds. The sores can cover the eyes, nose, and sides of the mouth keeping the birds from eating and drinking. Last year despite our best efforts, we actually lost a couple of young birds to this disease.

This year since we are raising so many turkeys, we decided to vaccinate all the birds with the Fowl Pox Vaccine. Due to circumstances and schedules, we ended up vaccinating them later than is recommended, but I don't think it will be a problem.

  I was able to purchase the vaccine from my local feed store. It comes in two vials that have to be refrigerated. When you are ready to use the vaccines, you just pull the metal rings off the tops of the vials, pull out the rubber stoppers, and pour the powered vaccine into the colored diluent. A quick shake, and it is ready to go!

The feed store also gave me this nasty looking device for administering the vaccine.

The vaccine is given into the webbing at the top of the wing. I really recommend having two people to do this properly, one to hold the bird and the wing in position, and the other to administer the vaccine.

  I was doing the holding. I was just sure that Big Onion was going to miss the bird, stab me with the blue stuff, and turn me in to a were-turkey! Luckily, this did not happen, and I haven't starting gobbling at the full moon yet.

Dip the needles into the solution before each administration.

Locate a place on the wing webbing away from any veins.

Insert quickly then remove.

And you are left with two blue dots that should turn into little scabs in a couple of weeks. Surprisingly, the birds didn't seem bothered by the actual insertion of the needles. I guess they don't have a lot of nerve endings in that area. They were more upset by being held still and on their backs for the few second it took to give the vaccine.

Our bourbon reds and bronzes are now safe from the pox!

Unfortunately, the vaccine does not save well once it has been mixed so we will have to get another set of vials for all the broad breasted whites very soon.