Welcome to HighTail Farms, LLC! We're a small farm located in Greensboro, North Carolina. We are dedicated to providing people with ethically raised and humanely processed pastured poultry and sheep, fresh eggs, and raw meat for pet food. We are currently not producing any products for sale.

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.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Walking the goat

**Blogger's note: I am woefully far behind in posting to this blog. These pictures are actually from last week. Gwenny is probably twice as big now, but I had to share the story of her first foray into being a real farm animal!

 Since we are hoping that she will someday grow up to be a dairy goat, I figured it was high time our Gwendolyn started getting used to walking on lead. We decided to go for a walk in the first pasture so that she could meet some of the animals she will someday live with and maybe get some nibbles at the grass out there. We had just wormed Josie a couple of days before, so Gwen should get some of that protection from the milk. This made it the perfect time to go on a little adventure.

 The sheep were extremely curious about the new arrival. 

 Of course Pepper was the first to come over and meet Gwen. 

Pepper is our most outgoing and inquisitive sheep. She also acts as a wonderfully caring auntie to the lambs who she will take under her wing when their mothers are not around. She walked over and stared at Gwen for a good minute before gently lowering her head to touch noses with the baby. Curiosity satisfied she wandered off to graze some more.

 Whoopie and Louise were the next to greet the tiny newcomer. They are a bit on the shy side and were satisfied with just giving her the once over from a distance before moving on.

 It was able this time that Josie took notice of all the commotion amongst the sheep.

 She came charging over, hackles up and horns down. Sacred the be-jezus out of both Gwen and me, let me tell you!

 I growled a warning at her and pulled Gwenny close to me just in a case, but Josie only gave her rear a very thorough sniffing and me a very puzzled look. It was like she sort of remembered her smell, but not that Gwen was her baby. Another low toned warning from me and Josie sauntered off to find some other way to cause trouble.

 Gwenny seemed to enjoy our little adventure. I took the leash off and she prance and bounced around, never getting too far from me. She even nibbled at some of the grass.

Our last visitors before heading in were, of course, the turkeys. Nothing can happen around our farm without them sticking their big, ugly beaks in. They seemed a little too overly interested in the little girl, so I took that as our cue to head back to the house.

I think Gwen was happy to be back in the house. She immediately curled up in her crate with her stuffed lambie for a good long nap.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

More fruits

I've said it before and I'll say it again, we were SO lucky to get a place that had so many wonderful things already in place. This week we are particularly grateful for all the fruit trees, bushes, and vines there were already in place and thriving when we moved in.

 The corner of the backyard has this massive muscadine vine that we have been keeping an impatient eye on all these months. Well, this week we finally had just a few of ripe grapes that we were quick to harvest and pop into the freezer until we have enough ripe grapes to start out own batch of muscadine wine. Yum!

The other fruit we have been keeping a close eye on is the giant cooking pear tree on the other side of the yard. It's branches have been looking heavy with fruit and the occasional rock hard pear bomb would come falling down.

 We decided to give it a good shake and see what we could get. I stood back and watched while the Big Onion all but swung from the branches, and the pears came raining down! All counted we ended up with 21 pears. Apparently pears aren't like apples in that they do not ripen while on the tree, you have to harvest them and store them for a while for them to soften and sweeten. Since we are pretty sure these are cooking pears, I'm not sure how soft or sweet they will get, but we tucked them away into our smaller refrigerator to ripen before they get juiced and turned into cider.

The ever present Josie and the turkeys were both on hand to help dispose of any damaged fruits. This series of photos just cracks me up....

Friday, August 17, 2012

New Hire

Since August 17th is apparently National Black Cat Awareness/Appreciation day, I figure today would be a good day to introduce the newest member of the HighTail farms crew....

This is Hunter Ratsbane 

Hunter has been hired to the recently created Barn Cat position. It's creation was necessary due to the recently discovered conspiracy taking place amongst the rodent population on the fram to deceive us into thinking that our large flock of otherwise healthy, happy ducks have mysteriously stopped laying altogether for the last few weeks.  In other words...

Damn rats been stealin our eggs. Hunter's (hopefully) gonna fix that.  

I had a heck of a time getting a decent picture of the little guy. He's black as night and since he's only about 3 months old, he is completely incapable of holding still long enough for the shutter to go off.

 This is the box he showed up in. His name originally was Panther, for very obvious reasons!

He took to the barnyard right away. Here he is meeting Josie for the first time. Since then these two have had a rather rocky relationship. Josie has no patience for this little upstart stalking and pouncing around her yard. Hunter, on the other hand, LOVES her fresh milk and has become my best milkin buddy always there in time to steal those first three squirts!

 See? He's already doing his job guarding the nest boxes! 

Big Onion is head over heels for the little guy. I think they bonded on the initial drive to the farm.

Hunter was completely flipping out in the car, yowling and ripping at the above pictured box until he tore his way out. Then he immediately climbed into the Big Onion's lap and fell asleep. Since then, Hunter has been his "Little Buddy" who follows him around for chores and rides on his shoulder whenever he gets the chance.

...and I guess I'm pretty fond of him too. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Great Incubation - 2012

It seems like lately on the farm we have spent every free weekend processing chickens and ducks and turkeys and rabbits. It had been a while since we fired up the incubators and started cookin a fresh batch of babies, so we starting collecting eggs. Lots of eggs. 

Pictured above are most of the eggs that we started incubating about a month ago. We had duck, chicken, guinea, and turkey eggs all ready to go. The cardboard slats under the eggs are my own crazy invention to keep the eggs from rolling around on the trays and to make it easier to turn them by just rolling them over the slats 3 times a day.

I should note that we threw the turkey eggs in there just for the heck of it. Right now we don't have a tom old enough to service our two remaining broad breasted white ladies. We thought what the heck, maybe we would end up with an immaculate Turk-ception! 

First to hatch were the chickens. We have kind of a nice system set up for hatching now. When we bought the farm, the previous owner left us this wonderful cabinet incubator that works great. The only problem is that it is completely enclosed, so come hatch time we cannot see what's going on. Plus, I have a completely unfounded theory that the little ones need some light to find their way out of their shells. So when hatch time comes around, all the eggs are moved to our styrofoam Hovabator where we can monitor their progress. It's also nice because we can stagger hatches if we want to and use the Hovabator just when it's time for lockdown.

We ended up with 42 mixed chicks. All these chicks were all fathered by our TSC white broiler rooster who grew up to be big as a house. Their moms were our Ameraucana and gold and silver laced Wyandotte girls. We are hoping by mixing the breeds we can get a happy medium of chicks that grow at a fast but healthy rate.

I cannot get over the color variety we got. The rooster is totally white, and we did get some little yellow chicks that will take after him, but we also got these speckle-faced chicks...

And a bunch of black chicks with just a yellow spot on their head. It'll be neat to see how they all turn out.

They very quickly outgrew our small inside brooder so we moved them out to a cage in the poultry house with plenty of space....

...and a portal to hell!! 

Just kidding, but that infrared brooding light is hell to try and take pictures with.

After another week, the duck and the guinea eggs were ready to hatch. We have never had any luck hatching off season ducks. We always get great hatch rates in the spring then next to nothing any other time of the year. That was certainly the case with this hatch. We only ended up with 3 ducklings. Two of which were male and one of those males has some crazy deformity thing going on that reminds me of spina bifida of the skull and I swear I saw part of a toe handing off the back of his head before the fluff dried. I think he'll be ok, but what the heck are we gonna do with a potentially handicapped drake?!

We did end up with 7 guinea keets. These guys will really come in handy keeping the tick population in check. We plan on setting up a coop for them in the back pasture once we finish fencing back there so they can act as pest control. That baby guinea may be cute now, but they get ugly and super noisy very quickly. In my opinion, the farther away those guineas live from the house, the better!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Meet Gwendolyn!

Sorry it has been so long since my last post, but we have been a little busy in the last week....

Josie FINALLY gave birth to a single little girl. We are calling her Gwendolyn. She was born at about 4am on the 26th. Unfortunately, despite all our efforts, we missed her actual birth. Josie went from very little indication to baby goat in the space of a couple hours. By the time we found Gwen, she was partially dried off and just barely up on her feet. We are keeping our fingers crossed that she didn't have time to nurse and potentially catch CAE from her momma before we got out there.

The first couple days were very touch and go for this little one. She had aspirated some kind of fluid, either during her birth or when we tried giving her a bottle for the first time.  She was having a lot of trouble latching on to the bottle. We were having to pry her mouth open to get the bottle in. Then she would just barely suckle.

By day two she was very lethargic, coughing a lot. Her mouth was full of mucus. She would not track and follow us when we called. She wasn't even pooping much at all. All she wanted to do was lay in her crate. I had taken her to work with me that day so I had my boss give her a quick look, and she was not very optimistic about the little girl's chances. We gave her a homeopathic and a little later an antibiotic and vitamin B shot.

Right before we were packing up to go, I took Gwenny outside and she started pooping...and pooping...and pooping. Then she started calling for me and following me down the driveway. She even gave us a couple little goaty hops. That evening, she latched onto the bottle and sucked down a giant dinner. I just about cried with relief.

Since then there is no stopping this little gal. She's already gained over a pound since she was born. She's drinking every drop we give her. She's running around the house like a fool driving all the other animals crazy. She seems to take particular pleasure in bothering poor Ajah who is closest to her size by chewing on her fur and trying to jump on her back at every opportunity. Her only problem is a little nasal congestion which gives us the opportunity to burst into choruses of "Snot Rockets in Flight" on a regular basis.

Here's a couple videos of her tearing around the front yard....