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, May 27, 2012

Wins and losses

When you find yourself lawn mowing between the rows of tomatoes, you know you have lost the battle with weeds in the garden. On the plus side, dig the sexy, candy apple red mower that the Big Onion crew got us during their visit!

  Ever since we tilled the garden back when the weather was still cool and the prospect of keeping up a 50 x 50 plot seemed like a good idea, I have been fighting  an uphill battle with the weeds and grasses trying to reclaim the land. On the farm, it's hard to find time to tool around in the garden when there are living breathing creatures that need time and attention.

  We have collard greens, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, cantaloupe, and watermelon all planted and doing pretty darn well despite the weeds. We've even managed to harvest a few things already.

  Time to suck it up, pull out the hoe, and get to weeding!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Gone Pear Shaped

We finally got the CAE results back for Josie and sure enough she's got it too. Luckily she's not showing any symptoms yet. Of course, this means if she is pregnant, we need to pull her babies and bottle feed them. It also means we need to find a clean source of colostrum and goat milk. I'd rather  not raise the babies on the goat equivalent of formula if I can help 


I know they say you can't tell if a goat is pregnant just by her shapes, but goat folks out there, what do you think? She was supposedly bred mid-February just before we got her.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Peppermint Patty

Meet Pepper.
By far NOT the best looking sheep in our flock. She's a bit puny and has spots everywhere. Her face is always a little crooked, and even for a hair sheep she has a weird half woolly, scruffy looking coat. Even her voice is goofy. She has a bleat that sounds like an old man with emphysema trying to clear his throat. 

But Pepper is by far the most outgoing, people friendly sheep we have on the farm. She will come running from across the field in hopes of a mouthful of corn or sweetfeed while all the other sheep look at her like she has lost her marbles.

Pepper and Nina, our second most food hoggiest sheep.


Since she is such a food motivated sheep, I decided to try halter training her. She just happened to follow me into the poultry house and after an extended and rather frustrating game of ring around the rack brooder, I got a hold on her and slipped on the halter. We went out into the goat yard (only smallish enclosed area we have out back), and I just waited while the girl threw a small fit about being attached to a human by the face (can you blame her, really?).


For my patience, I came away with a lovely hoof shaped stain on my pant leg.

 I wish I had gotten a picture of the look on the goat's faces' when I came in their yard with a spazzing sheep on a rope. Who knew goats could raise their hackles like that. The whole time I was working with Pepper, I had to keep a close eye on Josie, our larger goat, because she was hell bent on finding an opening and letting that sheep know who ruled the roost.

After Pepper was done bouncing around and tossing her head, she noticed the bowl of sweet feed in my hand and settled right down. Within a couple minutes, I swear that sheep was heeling better than most dogs I know.

A couple days later I was able to get the halter on her again, and it seems the lesson has stuck. She was just as good and willing to come along with me as long as there was food involved.

Next step is to introduce the rest of the flock to the halter. I seriously doubt it will go quite as smoothly as it did will Ms. Pepper. Fun times ahead. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Chicken

About two months ago, we got a bunch of little yellow chicks from Tractor Supply. Pretty sure they were Cornish crosses, meat birds.  They have been living the high life when it comes to broilers, an enclosure with access to sunlight and fresh air and plenty of pasture time. They have also been growing. Fast. So fast that their feathers cannot keep up with their growth, and they have weird bald patches. So fast that some even have trouble walking around.

And then there's this guy. This one chicken who grew twice as fast as everyone else. So big he waddled back and forth when he walked and barely ever came outside to graze. I found him sitting in a corner just open mouth panting on Monday and decided his time was up, and we were having chicken for dinner.

I learned the hard way why you want to remove food and water from poultry before slaughter. Let's just say upending a chicken that has been recently chugging down water in the heat of the day is not a pretty sight. This guy didn't even fit in our cone so I had to improvise, all the while dodging turkeys and guineas who were totally fascinated by what I was doing. By the time the deed was done, I was covered in some pretty unmentionable stuff. Ick!

Look at the size of these feet! 
(FYI: I do not have small hands) 

I weighed him just after slaughter, and he was 8.6lbs!! Cleaned he was 6.5lbs. I swear he was part turkey or goose or some thing.

A gizzard full of greens, proof that our chickens do, in fact, graze on real grass. Nothing goes to waste around here so all extra parts, head, feet, organs, and cleaned out guts, get put aside to become raw dog and cat food.

Since I did the killing, cleaning, and (most of) the plucking, Big Onion got the task of cooing the monster chicken. He brined it overnight then crammed it in the crock pot with lots of herbs, and some carrots and onions to cook with while we were at work. The house smelled amazing when we got home.

There is nothing like fresh, pastured chicken. The meat has texture and flavor that is totally missing from the typical super market meat. I can't wait to raise some of the more heritage, less commercial breeds for meat. I've heard they are even better.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Udderly Delicious at Mr. Onion's Neighborhood

We've been putting the milk we've been getting form Josie and Jenni to good use.  Over at Mr. Onion's Neighborhood, I've started a small series of posts called "Udderly Delicious" to celebrate our wonderful little goats.

Marinated Feta Cheese


Cubes of feta marinated in olive oil with a variety of fresh herbs. Served best with some warm, homemade bread.

Mac and Goat Cheese


Three different homemade cheeses with some homemade pasta make up the ultimate in comfort food.

Enjoy!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The baby bunnies have arrived!

(... actually they arrived a few weeks ago, we've just been lazy bloggers.)

We knew they were coming soon because Zinny was getting to be about as big as a house. We gave her a nest box full of hay....

Which she promptly pulled out and turned into a nest along with a good amount of her own fur on the opposite side of the cage. Here she does her best Groucho Marx impression.

I had to run out for an errand and by the time I got back, she had had ten ugly little pink squirming creatures on the wire floor of the cage. I moved them all along with a good pile of rabbit fuzz back to the nest box. We ended up losing four of the babies. I think 10 is too many babies for a new momma to take care of...I don't even think rabbits have that many nipples! Next time we will try and breed both girls at the same time so if one has that many again, we can move them to the other mom.

After a few days, the little ones started to grow white fuzz everywhere.

Then their eyes opened and they started really looking like rabbits.

Here's a video I took just a few days ago. Pretty sure this is their first time actually eating grass.

Today Zinny and all 6 babies spent then day weeding the garden in a rabbit tractor that I hobbled together out of two old cages. These guys are bred to be meat rabbits, and you can really tell. Those little ones are beefy and round like little meatballs already.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Good news

Well, We just got back the test results, and it looks like our larger goat, Josie, is, in fact, pregnant! Her progesterone was 4.62. From what I understand, anything higher than 1.5 is considered positive. So, I guess she's very pregnant!


That also means we have to start drying her up! No more fresh goat milk. If the previous owner's timing was correct, she should be due in just a couple months. No fair to ask the girl to be growing a belly full of baby goats and an udder full of milk at the same time.

I got the second test results as well, and we were happy to find that her liver is working great....which although nice to know, was not the test I asked for. Oops. I will have to call the lab on Monday and get them to run the CAE test instead. We are keeping our fingers crossed and praying for a negative on that one, otherwise we will be raising some bottle babies in a few months.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Quails comin

The incubator went into lockdown today. 

We should be lousy with baby quail very soon. I think we have decided that it really isn't worth it to raise quail for meat since it takes at least 2-3 birds to make a decent meal for one person. There does seem to be some interest in the eggs though, so we are going to try and get a few more females from this batch. Right now their enclosure is so big for the few that we have that it is more like a habitat. We have plenty of space for more girls. The males will probably make an appearance on Big Onion's food blog though.

Bad news

After two trips to the vet, many banamine injections, and some bloodwork, we got some very bad news about our little Mini LaMancha goat, Jenni.


Ever since we got her, she has been holding up her front legs, alternating from one foot to the other. She had a lot of trouble getting up and would walk like a Nazi soldier, goose-stepping with straight front legs and head swaying side to side. At first the vet thought it was laminitis, that her feet were hurting, hence the banamine injections. These didn't seem to help much at all. The next step was steroids, but we weren't sure if she was pregnant, so it was back to the vet for an ultrasound and some bloodwork.


In the meantime, I came across some information about a disease called CAE, caprine arthritis encephalitis. It a virus that usually affects very young goats in the form of deadly pneumonia, but can sometimes show up in older goats as progressive, crippling arthritis. The vet said he had never even seen it in an adult, so didn't even think to suggest this as a possibility. He drew blood for a pregnancy test and for CAE.

Well, the pregnancy test came back negative, but the CAE was definitively positive. In a way, the negative pregnancy test was good news because goats with CAE can pass it on to their young thru their milk. We would have had to separate mother and baby at the moment of birth and bottle raise the kid.

So, we are drying Jenni up so that she doesn't have the extra stress on her body of producing milk all the time. We are trying out some different combinations of joint supplements to see if we can find something to help her get around a little better. We also secured a much bigger area for the girls to live in so that she can get more exercise and eventually be allowed to graze the pasture with the sheep.



Of course now we are worried that our other goat, Josie, is also carrying this disease. Today, I drew blood from her to send out for the same two tests.

As a side note, Josie was less than pleased with my attempts to steal her blood. She actually got her head turned around in the milk stand and bit me in the face! Thank goodness goats don't have top teeth so my face was unharmed. Must have been a warning shot.   

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Just a little off the bottom

Sunday was a big day here on the farm....a sort of sheep spa day.

I had noticed a while ago that one of our new momma sheep, Rose, was limping. After catching her and getting a good look, I found that she had a mild case of hoof rot. Ick! Hoof rot is basically an infection of the hooves. It's pretty easy to tell when an animal has hoof rot. It smells terrible.

I also noticed that Pepper's feet were starting to turn out on one side so it was decided that we would have our first ever sheep hoof trimming day. So exciting!

We gathered all our tools, hoof trimmers large and small, some soak for rotty feet, a lanolin protective cream, penicillin injections, and I even stole some of the dog's grooming tools to try and remove some of the scraggy, nasty wool chunks hanging off the girls. Can't have unkempt looking sheep now can we?

The next step was getting the girls into the newly secured goat yard and catching them one by one to trimmed. Easier said than done. It took 3 people, a sheltie, and my handy stock stick to catch each sheep one by one.

 Our first victim was Maggie. We wanted to get her done so that she and the newest lamb ewe, Emma, could be put out first and not get run over or smashed. Maggie was actually happy to eat while I trimmed her hooves and our wonderful friend, A, removed loose wool.

Just like a day at the spa. 

 Big Onion was busy taking pictures of ears. This was to help us figure out their previous owner's ear notching system and get her birth records on each sheep.

At first we were putting the girls up on the goat's milk stand, but after Whoopi decided she would rather rest her...ahem....girl parts on my back (don't think that stain will ever come out!) than stand on three legs, we switched to laying the sheep down to work on them. Sheep are kind of amazing in that the minute you overpower them and get them off their feet, they just go limp. Go check out videos of sheep being sheered if you don't believe me. They just turn into giant wooly rag dolls...that fart and burp a lot.

 Even a couple of the babies got their first trimming. Fancy put up with it like a champ, but Optimus was a total handful, bucking and kicking the whole time he was held. Take note of Luna sacked out asleep in the background of this pic. That right there is a good stock dog, ready to work at a moment's notice, but completely fine with just being around the stock and chilling when not working.

Halp!

How can you help but love on something that cute? Even if your affections are neither appreciated or returned. 


In all, we had four girls with bad hooves. All got treated with penicillin and foot soaks. We will have to check them again in a week or two. We also tried to steal a little sheep milk from the mommas that were nursing babies. We learned that it is a lot easier to milk a goat than a sheep so the lambs are in no danger of us stealing their dinner.