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.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Quick and easy rabbit hay nets

Our rabbits get fed a high quality pelleted food twice day. They also get plenty of fruit and veggie scraps from the kitchen. The rabbits that do not live in tractors on the ground also get grass cuttings from the pasture as frequently as I can manage. The one thing that our rabbits' diets was missing was hay. I've been reading a lot lately about how important having access to hay is for bunny digestion and dental health so I decided to put together some quick and easy hay nets in the bunny pens so they can snack on hay whenever the mood strikes. 

 All I did was cut some small sections of large square chicken wire and bend the loose ends through the wire mesh of the cage doors.

 It seems to hold the hay really well and the bunnies loved it!

Here is our newest breeder, Thethuthinnang, enjoying her hay. All of our rabbits get their names from Watership Down. Unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of female characters in that book. We just call her 'T.'
We decided to keep T because she was the only female in the last litter. We might end up calling her dinner though if she doesn't improve her attitude. Right now she is extremely aggressive. I'm talking Rabbit of Caerbannog evil. She attacked me the other day when I was just reaching in to get her food bowl. I never even saw it coming! 

 I don't think Big Onion believed that we had an attack rabbit (despite the numerous scratches on the back of my right hand) until she unleashed her evil on him. I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt for the time being because she may be pregnant, but one more incident from her, and she may have a date with the stew pot! 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Weaning Gwen

 For a long time now, we have been cutting back the frequency of Gwen's nursing on Thea. From twice a day to once to every other then every third day. Well, she just recently turned four months old, so we figured it was high time the girl was weaned completely.

 As you can see, she barely fits under Thea already. She actually half fell off the stand after this picture was taken.

 She will still get a bowl full of goat chow twice a day when the other goats get milked, and she has access to enough scrubby, bushy pasture to keep any goat happy.

The next big step in her little goaty life will be when she gets to be an adult, and we breed her. Goats don't come into milk until they are bred and give birth. Today Big Onion and I talked about the fact that we will probably have to find a different goaty boyfriend for our little Gwen than for the other girls.

We plan on trying to find a nice Nubian to bred to Thea and Josie so that we can increase the milkfat in the next generation. Unfortunately, it looks like little Gwen is going to stay very little (about the same size as Jenni pictured below). I guess next year we'll be in the market for a handsome Nigerian dwarf buck as well.

Jenni just wishes we'd stop making such of a fuss over the little whipper snapper and give her her breakfast!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays!

 For Christmas, we decided to give the birds a little treat....

 Peas!

 The bunnies got oranges, cauliflower leaves, and carrots. 
Could you just die of cute?!

We also decided to torture/embarrass the goats by making them pose for pictures with my santa hat....

It was slightly too large for Gwendolyn....

 and it totally didn't fit Josie.

 Thea is under there somewhere. 

But Jenni totally made it work for her!


Happy Holidays from the HighTail Farms crew!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Whole Year!

One year ago!
One year ago today, Kaela and I had the final closing on the property. Later that night, I asked her to marry me. I knew that we would have a lot of hard work ahead of us, and I knew that there would be just as many downs as ups, so I wanted that first day as home/farmowners to be something marked with a very, very happy occasion. (If you want to read about that night, here's a link to Kaela's old blog!) Tonight, we celebrate with some wine I made from the muscadine growing on the property and, much like our first night, chow down on some gas station chicken.

Since that night we hit the ground running and have never stopped. We founded the business, HighTail Farms, LLC, renovated the shed into a state-reviewed poultry processing facility, obtained a couple of goats (including Gwen and Thea!), purchased a flock of sheep, survived a hurricanegot featured on the news, raised a crapload of animals, fenced in a pasturesold a bunch of pet food, sold a bunch of delicious food (for humans!), and have absolutely loved every single minute of it. It's been hard work, but the most rewarding work either of us have ever done. There have been some rough times, but in the end we stuck it out and it has been 100% worth it.

One thing we can't do is celebrate this year as a success without thanking all of you, our readers and customers, our friends and family. From our home and farm to you, thank you for your support, your business, and your love. I simply cannot wait to see what the next year holds for us, and we both look forward to sharing with you our adventures and our products.

Happy holidays to you all and have a happy and safe new year!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Our special needs chicken

 You may recall a while back I posted a pic of a young chicken with a deformed beak with the comment "This guy is NOT a keeper."

Well, it turns out that statement was wrong in two ways. First of all, that guy turned out to be a girl. Secondly, that ugly little chicken is staying.

Aside from the beak problem, she actually turned out quite pretty though much smaller than her siblings.

 As I said in the previous post, while growing up she was always first to the feeder, but this smart little girl actually figured out how to fly up and into the hanging feeders for a private meal every day. This was a very good thing because her beak deformity makes it hard for her to get food down.

 She is such a friendly chicken that we decided to intervene a bit. Now every day this chicken is first out of the coop and allowed to climb into the bin of chick crumbles to fill her craw before anyone else it let out. She also has a cage set up in the poultry house with food and water that she will bug me to lift her into midday.

 To top it all off, she's a really nice chicken. Perfectly happy to be picked up, petted, and even perch on my shoulder. I've taken to calling her Betty (get it, Ugly Betty? ha ha), and I think the name really fits her. Betty will even come running when you call her.

Chicken photo bomb!

 Proof it's not easy to take a picture of a chicken on your own shoulder.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Important News!

 Oh....Sheep! Sheep!

 Hey sheepies, why don't you follow me across the bridge...

 ...and over the hill...

 What could be behind this gate?

Friday, December 7, 2012

A quail in the bush...



Unlike the rest of our birds, our quail cannot be allowed out in the pasture to free range. The problem is quail are not domesticated like most of our other fowl. If allowed out, they just don't come back. In fact, when we released the first batch of adult quail into their spacious indoor/outdoor pen, we had a number of birds just disappear. It took us a while to find and patch all the tiny, quail sized escape routes. 
  
About a week ago, I started a little experimental project in the quail pen. Quail are ground birds who like to hang out in tall grass and under scrubby bushes. For a long time, I had been cutting armfuls grass and bringing them in for the little birds to nibble on and burrow under. I finally got the bright idea to try and plant some of the taller tufts of grass in their pen.

The little birds thought this was brilliant. I had barely finished patting down the dirt around the first plant when I was swarmed with curious little quail who immediately started nibbling on the lower stalks and burrowing their way into the plant.

 Can you spot the birds in the bush? 

It's been about a week. I've added three more plants and all are thriving. The quail are loving them and having taken to laying their eggs under the cover of the bushes. I have to say it's a lot easier to look under the plants than to tip toe around pen in work books trying not to trample the eggs they used to bury under their bedding.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Elvis!

We've been concerned for a while now about the lack of ... ahem ... male presence with our sheep. We have McLovin out there with the group, but he is young, small, and really just not what we are looking for in a ram. 

Recently we heard that a local person I know through my dog training club had a nice Royal White ram that was already out on loan to another farm. After much back and forth between the three parties, we arranged to borrow both the ram and a trailer to move him to our farm this weekend. 

We we went to pick up the trailer we were informed that it had a special feature - a switch that you could flip to play the theme to Sanford and Son as you drive down the road. Needless to say, once we got this thing hooked up, we stayed on back roads and far away from the highway.

So this is our new loaner ram. We are pretty sure that he's not totally a Royal White since every description can find about the breed lists them as being all white and polled. Clearly, he is not all white and has horns. That said, he is a rather handsome dude. Big Onion has decided he looks like an Elvis.


Our only concern it that one of his horns seems to be growing into the side of his face. Ouch! The Big Onion and I have already agreed not to keep any of his offspring that have this kind of horns. The last thing we want is a flock of sheep that need constant horn management. Cutting horns it not fun or pretty.

Introductions to the flock were surprisingly smooth. All the girls were very curious about the newest stud on the block.

 Nina and Patch even flirted with him a bit while McLovin showed him a lot of respect and kept his distance.

It wasn't long before he started to work checking out the business end of all the girls. Here, Pepper was holding perfectly still for him: a very good sign. We haven't yet seem him do the deed, but he is a proven stud and we are pretty confident that he can get the job done as long as the girls will cycle again this late in the year.

Then Josie came stomping over, hackles up ready to show this newcomer who was in charge in this pasture. After about 3 seconds of sniffing,  Elvis reared back and gave Josie a good wholloping headbutt.

Josie back off and stormed away while the rest of the barnyard cheered. The Evil One finally got a taste of her own medicine!

We'll have more updates on our sheep breeding efforts as they move along. We've also got some important news to share ... stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Saving Ms. Daisy

The Big Onion and I both have "real" jobs that take us away from the farm during the day most days. The shorter days of winter often result in us not seeing our animals in the daylight for good stretches of time. Usually this is not a big deal, but on my first day off after a string of work days I saw this out in the field ...



Obvious evidence that Daisy, one of our younger ewes, had been having diarrhea. Not only did she have a dirty rear, but the she looked like she had melted. In the space of just a few days, all the weight had fallen right off her frame. Even her face looked boney and she was extremely weak. I gave her a B comp shot, a mouthful of probiotics, and got on the phone with the vet right away.

The vet suggested we run a fecal to find out exactly what was causing the diarrhea. I won't go into too much detail about how one acquires a fecal sample from a sheep. Suffice it to say gloves were involved.

The sample came back positive for coccidia and had surprisingly few worms. The vet suggested we start her on a regimin of antibiotics, propylene glycol,  and give her a dose of wormer, but he warned me that as weak as she was I shouldn't get my hopes of of saving her. They always said in vet school that "sheep are born lookin' for a place to die."

What follows was a harrowing few days of drenching this poor weak sheep with antibiotics, probiotics, vitamins, electrolytes and the propylene glycol. I also gave her double rations of grain to try and bring her weight up. I even made up a little song to the tune of Daisy Bell to try and keep both our sprits up and would sing to her while shoving various liquids down her throat...

          Daisy, Daisy, you have got runny poo
          I'm half crazy trying to save you
          It won't be an easy battle
          Because sheep are quite fragile
          But it'd be sweet
          If we could cheat
          The grim reaper of his due

I was hopeful, but tried to steel myself every time I went out into the fields to find that all our efforts had failed. Through the whole thing, she remained bright eyed and eager to gobble down any extra rations sent her way. 



It has now been a couple weeks since we first discovered the diarrhea, and I'm happy to report that Ms. Daisy is still with us. Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to be putting on much weight, but at least she is feeling a lot stronger and is back to making pellets instead of cow pies.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Frosty morning

I know a lot of folks out there are getting hit with their first snow of the season this week. All these pictures of snow covered fields makes me very thankful for our southern climate. Yesterday, we got (probably) the closest thing we will see to white fields.

Major frost covering the pasture. 

This doesn't happen very often for us, so of course I had to pull out the camera for some shots of the icy grass before the morning sun came out and melted it all away.




I was a little concerned about how all the animals weathered the cold night when I looked up to see this chubby monkey running up to greet me...


Everyone was fine. Even the rabbit babies that were just born on Thanksgiving day were snuggled up in their nest boxes covered in their mother's fur.

~~~~~

I apologize for the lack of posts lately, but we have been a little crazy processing and delivering turkeys for Thanksgiving. Thanks again to everyone who supported us and had a HighTail Farms turkey on their Thanksgiving table! The responses we have gotten so far have all been very positive.

I'm actually working on a post right now that gives a detailed step by step of how we process our birds so stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Gwen and her Nanny

No time to make a real post, but I thought I'd share this cute little series of pics of Gwen and her Auntie Thea. These guys are the first of the farm animals to greet me in the morning. My first chore of the day is always to collect these two from their pen off the side of the backyard and escort them to the milk stand for breakfast. 

I have to say, it's a pretty great way to start the day. 





Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Persimmons

It's persimmon season and our few little trees in the back yard are producing lots of fruit! I've read that it's best to harvest the fruit before it becomes totally ripe to keep the birds from eating their way through your harvest. 


 So I went out with our big bushel tub (thanks mom!) and pair of kitchen scissor to lay claim to our fruit. I tried to harvest anything that no longer had any green coloring, but most of the fruit was still very hard.

 This one actually ripened on the tree without the birds or bugs finding it!

 And my clumsy self dropped the dang thing while trying to harvest it. This variety of persimmon gets extremely soft when ripe, so my perfect fruit got a bit smooshed. Oops!

 My day's take. 

We are still not sure what we are going to do with the fruit when it ripens. I'm not a huge fan of the flavor, but I am tempted to try my hand at making preserves. I've just read that they can make a good salsa and even cookies. Mostly likely though, these  guys will end up becoming wine under the Big Onion's expert hand.