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, July 23, 2012

Flying turkeys

Apparently the turkeys can now get on top of the poultry house. We are starting to seriously doubt that they are broad breasted bronzes.



Thursday, July 19, 2012

Goat Update - Still kidless


We are a week overdue and still no goat babies. That joke about Josie just being fat is getting less and less funny. Around here we are starting to think about false pregnancy and sneaky goats who would totally fake it just to get more grain out of us. 

We haven't totally given up hope. Josie's udder continues to fill oh so slowly. The biggest change we have noticed (aside from her being OMG STARVING all the time) is that our previously ornery, practically untouchable goat is now the sweetest thing in the world. She all but crawled in my lap when I got home last night. She wants scratches and love and attention when just a few weeks ago she would bob and weave if a hand came near her.

We are still keeping our fingers crossed and our hopes guarded for kids in the near future.

 Go Josie go!


ETA: We got home a little while ago and there is a noticeable increase in her udder. She was acting very subdued and laying down a lot....and this is going to sound crazy, but I swear it looked like her ankles were swollen. I'm thinking if it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen in the next couple days. Positive goat related thoughts, please, folks!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Grizzly

Since we bought the farm we have been doing pretty much everything manually. That includes my loading our little cart up after every visit to the feed store and dragging it across the backyard and pasture carrying 3-4 fifty pound bags of feed. Not fun. 
We finally decided enough was enough and took my dad up on his offer to get his old, currently unused four wheeler.


First we had to figure out a way to get it here. I finally got a trailer hitch for my Element (I was ridiculously excited about this). Big Onion was a real trooper, crawling under my car in the almost hundred degree heat to install it.

Of course the installation did not go smoothly. He fought to make that thing line up with the holes in my car for about an hour before I had the idea of pulling out my car's dinky jack and using the weight of the car to get everything in place. Total worked. (MacGyver with Boobs to the rescue again!)


We drove over to my brother's about an hour and a half away and loaded up the bike. This was my little car's first time pulling anything, so I was a nervous wreak the whole way home. Thank goodness Big Onion drove. 


Once again, things went less than smoothly when we got the bike home. No joy rides through the pastures for us. The thing was totally dead. It had been sitting unused for almost a year. Big Onion ended up replacing the battery and the air filter and rebuilding the carburetor. He also had to tighten some things, loosen others, straighten something that was bent....is my lack of mechanical knowledge obvious yet? That man is damn handy to have around.


The bike is finally up and running! It still has it's minor issues, but Big Onion has taken it as a personal challenge to get the thing running smoothly.

Yesterday we used it to 4 fifty pound bags of feed and a bale of hay all at the SAME TIME! It was amazing.

That bike is a beast too. You can get a bushhog and tillers that attach to the back, a much more affordable option for us since a tractor is just way, way out of our price range right now. It has a towing capacity almost as high as my car. It can even tow it's own trailer! It has a winch on the front and rides smoother than any bike I've ever driven. This thing is going to be a life saver when we start fencing the back pasture next month.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Turkeys are weird too


Some days it seems like the turkeys just pass right out where they stand for a midday nap.  

I've finally learned not to freak out when I turn the corner and see an apparently dead bird. 

They always pop right up when they see me and continue sticking their big ugly beaks in my business. 

Not to be outdone in the weird department, Jenni decided to up the ante with this little number. 

Yeah, she is completely asleep with her back foot behind her head and her own shoulder as a pillow. The best part is she somehow manages to make this craziness look comfortable. 

Weird beasts. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Quails a'plenty

We got quails! 

After a short two weeks in the 'bator, the quail eggs started popping like popcorn. 

 Of the fifty-something eggs we put in to cook, we ended up with 39 walnut sized, chipmunk colored quail babies or "cheepers." 

This time I got smart and lined the brooder box with puppy pee pads. They are absorbent, offer better footing than newspaper, and I can toss them when they get too soiled (which happens pretty quick with almost 40 little birds all pooping in the same area). I used to use towel to line the brooder, and boy was that a gross cleanup job.

 The brick is in the brooder to absorb heat from the lamb and help keep the tiny little guys warm.

These cheepers are so tiny that the regular crumbled poultry food is too big for them. We have to toss cupfuls into the food processor before offering it to them.

So what does fate hold for these little guys? 

Since we had a number of adults disappear on us, we will be using a lot of the females from this group to restore our numbers. The males will probably end up as food.

Unfortunately since the law considers quail to be game birds instead of poultry, we cannot legally sell them for human consumption. Luckily, there is a good market for exotic meats for raw cat and dog food in our area so any extra males will be processed and sold for healthy, natural pet food. 

ETA: Here is a little video I took on my phone of the day old babies. Everything looks red because the are under an infrared heat lamp.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaaHcqsUGD4&feature=g-upl

Thursday, July 12, 2012

To breed, or not to breed ...

What you lookin' at?
Since we've received our approval from the state to begin processing poultry on the property, we spent some time talking about what we wanted to continue raising. When you buy a bird from the store you hardly hear about what breed of chicken, duck, or turkey it was. To most people, perhaps even you, a chicken is a chicken and a duck is a duck and a turkey is a turkey, and that's not always the case.

Let's talk a bit about breeds ...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Goat watch: 2012


Josie is as big as a house. She actually waddles side to side when she walks. I swear she gets bigger every day, and if the guy who sold her to us is right, she should be due to give birth tomorrow. (The joke around here is that she is not pregnant at all and has just gotten really, really fat!)

Since she is CAE positive, we are going to try our best and be there when the babies are born. If we can pull them before they nurse, there is a good chance that they will not catch the virus from their mother. So we are officially on goat watch.

Every night we get the big girl up on the milk stand for dinner and checking her tail ligaments and her udder. Just before a goat is ready to give birth, the ligaments on either side of the tail get soft and smooshy. Her udder should also feel very full and tight.

So far the udder is loose and the ligaments are tight so after a night of dreaming of goat babies, I left for work today with my fingers crossed that the girl will hold out another day.

The bad thing is, we still haven't been able to find any local colostrum so the kids will have to make due on powdered or mom's heat treated stuff. Not an ideal situation, but it's better than catching CAE.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Close encounter of the serpentine

I was happily digging around in the garden this week, putting in some freshly sprouted pumpkin plants when I saw something moving in the grass by the fence line, just about 6 inches from where I was working. I took a closer look and saw the back half of a small snake.  Thinking it was another rat snake like the one I've been catching glimpses of for months, I pinned it with my trowel and carefully ran my hand up its body to grip it right behind the head. (I do have some snake handling experience.)

It wasn't til I lifted the snake out of the grass that I realized that what I had in my hands was not, in fact, a rat snake. It had a diamond shaped head and an upturned snout. I was holding 10" of venomous god-knows-what!

I just stood there in my garden for a minute trying to decide what to do. Put it down? No, there were way too many animals wandering nearby to release this potentially deadly thing. Kill it? With what?! If this thing bit me, I was home alone and kinda screwed. What to do? What to do?? 

I finally stopped spazzing out and carried it over to the poultry house where I found a big waterer that screwed shut. I tossed the thing in there and slapped on the lid!


Just to be doubly safe I put it in one of the cages, locked the door, and waited for Big Onion to come home so that if I got bit at least there would be someone there to bring me to the hospital!

We did some research and decided that the snake was probably a cottonmouth and that the best course of action would be to dispatch it.

I rallied my courage and grabbed a pair of tongs and my trusty kitchen scissors. It wasn't long before Mr. Snake was no longer sharing the same address as his head.

WARNING: Graphic dead snake picture below...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Eggz!

I hate Tuesdays. 

I hate Tuesdays the way most people hate Mondays. 

Tuesday is my long day at my "real job" at the vet's office. 

However, the good thing about Tuesdays is that the birds are kept in all day so they are forced to lay IN their pens instead of us having to go on an Easter-esque egg hunt through the pastures. 

 Here is our haul from this Tuesday. 
(The pups think it wholly unfair that I use a dog bowl for anything other than filling their bellies.)

We got 8 duck, 4 chicken, 2 guinea, and 6 quail eggs. 
Not too shabby! 

It's especially good since we are about to start another batch of eggs incubating. All the above eggs save the quail will be cooking in the big 'bator by next week. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Compost

Another thing I've been trying to get around to is building us a proper compost area. When we moved here we moved with our trash can composter. Now that we have the space it was time to put together something more permanent.

The sheep have decided that they like to spend the night around the back side of the poultry pens. This has led to a buildup of ... fertilizer. I decided to rake and scoop this stuff up to include in the new compost heap.  (The turkey was not nearly as helpful with this as you'd think.)

So this is our new composting area. I used materials we had around the farm: old bits of fence material, cinder blocks, and a pallet from the feed store. It may not be very pretty, but hey, it's a pile of decomposing trash.  I made two separate areas so that we could add to one while the other did it's composting thing.

The actual pile is layers of old compost, grass clippings, manure, food scraps, and shredded paper. Today I watered the whole mess so hopefully it will be ready to put back into the garden someday soon. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rabbit tractors

Building portable cages for the rabbits has been on the 'to do' list for a long time. We finally got around to starting on one last weekend.

 Ajah and Barley modeling the unfinished cage. 

Here's Zinny A.K.A. Hyzenthlay (well of course we named our breeders after Watership Down characters!) enjoying the finished product. The only change I want to make is adding a shelf in the enclosed area for then to have more of a den to feel safe.

And here's Josie doing her best to destroy it. There was not a single doubt in my mind that Josie was going to end up on top of that cage as soon as we put it within her reach. We actually added extra reinforcement with her in mind.

The baby rabbits are still spending their days outside in rabbit-topia and nights safely tucked away in the poultry house.

'Course they barely look like babies any more. They will be big enough for processing pretty soon. We will probably keep one more female for breeding though. She'll be chosen based on size and temperament. We are looking for big, calm, easy to handle girls. 

Guess that means we need to build more tractors! 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bianca's brood

Bianca, Reggie, and one of their little ones.

I'm not sure if I have mentioned it here before or not, but our silkie hen, Bianca, finally set and hatched a batch of her own eggs. She ended up with 6 cute little white fluffballs.

When the chicks were just a few days old, I picked up a group of "heavy breed pullets" from the feed store and snuck them under our broody hen. So our tiny, little bantam gal has been raising 11 chicks, half of which are quickly getting to be bigger than her.

The last time I visited the feed store, I fell for these adorable little Dorking chicks. We are still trying to settle on a breed of chicken to raise as meat birds. We are trying to move away from the creepy super fast growing commercial birds. These little Dorkings have a very cool history and a good reputation for being easy going, good layers, and pretty fast growers.

At first Bianca was less than impressed with the new additions and all the older chicks were terrified of them.

But after a while, everyone seemed to settle down and get along pretty well. Unfortunately, when we went out the next morning, the smaller of the two Dorkings had gotten excluded from the group and was near death. I guess she just got chilled over night even though our night temps this time of year are just short of sweltering. The other chick is robust and active and doing just fine.

Here are some of the "heavy breed pullets." Can any of you chicken folks out there can give me a clue as to their breed? I'm pretty sure the little striped black one not seen in this pic is a Barred Rock.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Even further proof: Goats are weird

We've got a few minor construction projects going on around the farm these days: building rabbit tractors, putting together a better compost heap, etc. The folks at our local feed store were nice enough to put aside a few of their better pallets for me. I loaded them into the back of my car and drove the car home and parkd in the pasture. I was unloading the rest of my purchases and I wasn't away from the car for more than a minute when I came back to find this.... 



 All I can say is....Goats are weird. 

I guess considering it's Josie, Queen of the Bad Attitude and President of the Ruin my Day Club, I should be glad she didn't take a crap in there while she was at it.