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.

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.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chicken update

We are STILL waiting for our "meat chickens" to get big enough to process. I finally lugged a scale out back, and they are weighing in at around 3.5lbs. Ideally, we'd like them to be at least 5lbs before processing, but we may have to settle for 'cornish game hen' sized birds. They are certainly growing faster than the small group of Buff Orpington girls that are being raised with them, but not nearly fast enough for my taste.

In order to encourage them to grow up big and strong, I recently gave them a special treat...

That's a tub of cracked corn and whole oats soaked in the leftover whey from my last batch of goat cheese. I normally save this special treat for the ducks, but the young chickens loved the change of pace.

As a side note, I cannot get over how pretty these chickens turned out. We are contemplating keeping a couple of this batch as egg layers, but choosing our keepers is gonna be tough.

We also just hatched out another, smaller batch of chicks. We are hoping these guys will perform a little better since they were all fathered by our giant, super awesome rooster, Fernando. You can see his strong genes in how many little white chicks we got this time. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Raw Pet Food

All of the dogs and cats around here are fed an exclusively raw diet. It's something I have been doing for many, many years and something I feel very strongly about. When we got the farm, one of the goals was to be able to feed our animals from our own livestock. We quickly discovered that just like people are looking for better quality meat for themselves, there was a demand for local, properly raised meat for pet food. 
 
One of our best and most reliable sources of income has been making these ground mixes of meat, organs, and bone. Both cats and dogs seem to love them, and their owners love have a reliable source of clean and quality meat.

I work in a holistic vet's office so we have also had success selling the meat through my office. 

Hunter has been raised eating raw meat from the day he came to the farm. Now he's getting pretty good at catching his own version of a raw diet!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hay Day

Next to our farm is a big, huge open field that we recently found out our neighbor uses for growing horse hay. He told us next time we saw him cutting to just come on over. Well, I was out doing chores last weekend when I saw this...

Hey, it's hay!

I finished up my morning chores and grabbed the Big Onion, and we hot-footed it over to the neighbor's place to get us some quality goat foods.

Watching all the giant farm machinery work was a real treat for us former city slickers. That's the baler working in the background to compress the already cut and raked hay into bales.

This is a star wheel rake and it's used for raking the hay into neat rows so the baler can do its job. I think it's just really cool looking.

We were super excited to have a source of hay so close to home. We grabbed 3 bales and literally tossed them over the fence into our yard. Not to mention we got those 3 bales for under $10. A real steal considering the local TSC is asking $9.50 PER BALE!

While we were over, our neighbors showed us something really cool....

They have tortoises! 

They said this handsome dude is over 40 years old!

They also brought us inside to show us all the babies that they incubated and hatch. How cool is that!

During our tour, the neighbor asked if we raised any banties. When we said we had few silkies, she asked if we would like to take this tiny little bantam chicken. This girl is actually full grown. She had gone broody on a nest of unfertilized eggs, and our neighbor was worried because she was getting picked on by her flock of full sized chickens. This poor little gal didn't stand a chance against those giant birds

We moved her in with the silkies (Reggie, Bianca, and Bebe) and even though she smaller than them, I think this feisty chick will hold her own. It took her a little while to get over being moved off her eggs, but she is doing great now.

We still need a name for this gal. Any suggestions?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Barley vs the Cottonmouth

It seems that we have have been having a whole series of bad luck around the farm these days. In keeping with tradition, in the last week Gwen has managed to injure both her foot and her face. Poor thing is walking around with a limp and a swollen jaw. I whacked myself in the face with a crowbar then had the pleasure of being on the news with a shiner. But I think Barley wons the bad luck prize over the weekend by getting bitten in the face by a cottonmouth.


We had just come in from doing our evening chores when Big Onion noticed that his face looked a little odd. We brought him inside and found that half the poor guy's face was swollen and he had blood dripping from one side of his mouth. A closed inspection revealed several small puncture wounds inside the lip.

It was obviously painful so I got the vet on the phone and started treating him with homeopathics right away. We kept a very close eye on him for any breathing problems, but after getting a remedy he seemed to perk up and be feeling ok.


Meanwhile, Big Onion grabbed his trusty pellet gun and started shaking the bushes out back to find the culprit. He wasn't having much luck. Barley kept going to the back door so I let him out. He went straight to his dad and started helping with the hunt. Not 2 minutes later Big Onion saw him sniffing at some tall grass by the house then jump back and point. Our goofy dude actually pointed out the snake. That pellet gun made short work of the snake and we were able to confim that is was a cotton mouth.



Thank goodness dogs aren't effected by snake bites in the same way as humans. By the end of the evening, most of the swelling had moved to a pocket under his chin. After a few days the swelling is pretty much gone, and he's left with just a couple little spots inside the lip that are slowly healing.



Barley's back to being his goofy self. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Superstars!



Check it out! A local news station did a short piece on our farm....

http://www.abc26.com/videogallery/72917652/Environment/High-Tail-Farms

Thanks to Molly Rosenblatt for coming out to visit us. We had a great time showing off all the animals and talking about how we do things around here. Sorry your camera man left with a little something extra on the bottom of his sneaker.

I think the animals made a nice showing. Everyone came when called and the newest batch of quails even managed to get themselves hatched in time to make their debut on television!

I do feel the need to note (even though I'm assured that it is barely noticeable) that I have a bit of a black eye in the video  because I managed to smack myself in the face with a crowbar over the weekend while taking apart another pallet to make more raised garden beds. I'm totally fine, just slightly embarrassed and a complete klutz. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Gwen's day out

Since she was born, Gwen has had this little cough. She aspirated fluid when she was first born and never could get totally rid of the cough. It always seems to happen after she is nursing and occasionally in the morning. Since she was fine and healthy otherwise, we kept watching and hoping it would go away. It finally made me nervous enough to pack her up and take her to visit our local large animal vet yesterday. 

 Gwen rode in the car like a champ. I just tethered her by the collar to keep her from jumping into my lap while I was driving. She walked into the vet's office on leash, got on the scale and stood still, then quietly waited with me until it was our turn. Heck, she was better behaved than most of the dogs that come into our office.

The vet gave her a thorough exam, and I am happy to report that little Gwen has been given a clean bill of health. Heart and lungs are clear. Apparently, it's pretty common for goats to carry a bug that makes them cough occasionally, but they are otherwise perfectly healthy so no reason to worry. He said that she was in great condition. He also thinks that she will stay a small goat, only around 40-50lbs.

Everyone in the vet's office just loved her. She was bright and curious and had a great time headbutting one of the receptionist's french bulldog.

Eating rocks outside the feed store.


After the vet visit, we went to the feed store. Gwen decided that the stock guy looked like a good challenge and kept headbutting him in the leg until he squatted down to pet her. It was really funny to watch people double take after thinking the little creature that was happily following me around on leash was a small dog. In the parking lot, one man actually slammed his truck to a halt, rolled down the window and yelled, "Hey! How much for the goat?"

Yeah, our Gwenny is not for sale.  




Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gobble, gobble!


According to some folks, the world comes to an end on December 21, 2012. That means this Thanksgiving just might be the last one. So make it a special one and buy a locally raised, pastured turkey!

We're taking orders now for Thanksgiving turkeys. While I may have grumbled a bit before about raising Broad Breasted White turkeys -- the commercial variety that tend to grow way too fast -- we picked some up with the intention of selling them as small, young turkeys. We cannot give a definite on the final weight of these turkeys, but at the rate they are growing they should come in around 10-12 lbs. This is the perfect size for a small family or small gathering of friends. We have four available for pre-order. We also have 1 larger bronze turkey (pictured above) available that should weigh in the 15-18lb range. 

The turkeys are $3.50/lb. As usual with our turkeys we will gladly cut up and package any way you like, although you must buy the whole bird. There is a $2.00 fee if you would like the neck and giblets. Pickup at the farm is preferred, but we will gladly make deliveries in the surrounding areas for a $5.00 fee. The turkeys will be available for pickup on Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving, November 20. Deliveries will be made on Wednesday, November 21. The birds being picked up or delivered will be fresh, not frozen: we want to give you the best farm-to-table experience possible!

Our turkeys -- no matter what the breed -- are pastured daily. Even with small poults (young turkeys) we make every effort to give them daily access to some amount of pasture. Once large enough, they have free roam of the pasture. Pasturing them provides you with a far superior turkey than you could buy in the grocery store.

E-mail orders@hightailfarms.com to place your order. Remember, we only have a limited amount, so get your orders in!

UPDATE: Corrected my wrong dates! Pickups can happen on the 20th. Deliveries on the 21st!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Happy Birthday Ajah!

Yesterday was Ajah's 12th birthday. I have to say that this little dog really did change the course of my life in a lot of ways.

This pic is from her birthday beach trip last year. 

They say that most people get into dog training because of one bad dog. For me, Ajah was that bad dog. She may have been cute as a button, but she was hell on wheels as a pup. She took forever to potty train. She snapped and bit when handled. She put EVERYTHING in her mouth. She cried and cried and cried for hours on end when left alone. She once as a 2lb puppy chewed a hole through the drywall in my parent's bathroom in an attempt to escape. Training was a godsend for us and for her.

Through dog training, I discovered agility which led me to get Sonny,  a "real agility dog." Since Sonny was a herding breed, we started herding training. Fast forward a few years and we have have 3 herding dogs and a flock of sheep and ducks that need herding on a regular basis all because a bad little Yorkie decided she liked the taste of drywall. 

My little Princess has come a long way since those crazy puppy days. She can claim a number of agility and obedience titles and knows every stupid pet trick in the book. She even helps out on the farm from time to time. She's had liver problems her whole life and we've recently found out that there is a section of her midback with major disc collapse, but neither of these things have slowed her down. She's still active and playful. She actually spent her birthday with a pronounced limp in the front that I suspect came from one of her kamikaze 6 foot leaps off the bed in the morning. 

So Happy Birthday, Princess, and here's hoping we can look forward many, many more birthdays to celebrate in the future! 


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Gwen's Luck


We are beginning to wonder if our little Gwen is accident prone.

I never mentioned it here, but there was an incident a few weeks ago where she stumbled upon a yellow jacket nest. There's was lots of screaming and flailing and running around in circles on both our parts. The end result me with 7 extremely painful (think being beaten with a 2x4 full of rusty nails pain) stings and poor Gwen with countless spots. So many on her rear that she was trembling and crying and walking on three legs. Yeah, that was a bad day.

Since then the poor thing has stumbled into more ant piles than I can say. She even managed to hopelessly tangle herself in a hay net one day to the point that she was half suspended off the ground.

Well yesterday, Sonny and I were in the process of moving the forty-something broiler chicks from one pen to another when I heard  Gwen's characteristic 'OMG I NEED HELP NOW!' cry of  "Wwwhhhhhaaaaa" and saw her come jetting across the pasture. She slid to a halt next to water bucket and started furiously rubbing her nose on the edge. I secured the chickens as best I could then rushed over to see what she had gotten into now.

I gave her a good once over, but couldn't see anything wrong so after quick nose rub, I went back to chicken wrangling while Gwen continued to call intermittently. After the chickens were all away, I went back to my goat girl and though she had calmed down a lot there was definitely something wrong...

 There was a tiny red dot inside her left nostril and...


 her lip was swollen to about twice its normal size.

I had a brief paniced thought of the cottonmouth I'd found a while back, but it looked more like Gwenny had another run-in with some kind of stinging insect. I gave her a dose of Apis and she crawled up into my lap for a good ten minutes of baby goat snuggle time. The swelling went down pretty quick, thank goodness. We used to joke when she was younger that she looked like camel and yesterday that was really true for a little while.

Hey Gwen! How do you feel about all those bugs out there...


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Like Ducks to Water

So this happened today.

After 10 months of living here, the ducks have finally found the creek. This is bad for a couple reasons. For one thing, the creek cuts through our property and is not fenced. If they come ashore in the wrong place, the ducks could easily find themselves in the neighbor's yard or even on the street. It's also bad news because, as you can see, this is no pristine mountain stream we are talking about here. At best, this creek is used as a drainage channel.

  We have been talking about fencing off access to the creek from the first pasture for a while now. The sheep love to run to the edge of it every time they see a herding dog, leaving me with palpitations and visions of my crazy butt diving in that ditchwater to saving a drowning sheep. Our original plan was just to put up a few strands of barbed wire, but it looks like now we will have to use something more poultry-proof.

Josie and Jenni know those ducks are in trouble!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Of ducks and sheep and farmdoggies

 Hey, Luna, what cha doin over there? 

 The sheep are due for another Famacha check and possible worming. With the Big Onion out of town, I turned to my right hand man...er...dog for help. Luna did an awesome job of tucking the sheep into this corner and holding them there while I checked everyone's eyes and feet. It's amazing how easy the sheep are to handle when my small, fuzzy, wolf beast is staring them down.

  It was nice to see that all our adult sheep were very pink and not in need of worming. A few of the "teenagers" will need another dose of cydectin so that will be tomorrow's job. I was also happy to find that despite the almost constant rain of the last week or two, no one had obvious foot rot.

After we finished with the sheep, Luna helped me relocate the adult ducks and geese. I know I've talked in the past about how Luna was learning to herd the birds without hurting them, but today I was especially proud of her for handling a large group of unhappy birds while keeping her cool.

The last couple weeks, I've been watching her test herself with the ducks. She'd pick out a small group and move them around without my prompting. If the birds got too flappy, or she got too excited, she would pull herself off and walk away. The other day I watched her round up a bunch of small groups into one bigger group on her own before going back to very carefully move a single straggler in with the rest.

The single bird has always been a problem for Luna in the past. Trying to move one duck means much more erratic and unpredictable movement and a much higher risk of Luna losing her cool and biting. I generally don't let her even try to move a single duck because the risk of ending up with an injured or dead bird was just too high.

Well, after watching her work on her own, today I let her herd two different singles that had gotten separated from the rest of the flock during the move, and she was wonderful. We got the whole flock moved in about half the time it would have taken me if I'd tried doing it on my own.

Thanks Lu!



Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tia Thea Nanny Goat

 "Where is my dinner?!"


Since Thea got here we have not had to make a single bottle for Gwen. Twice a day, Thea jumps right up on the milk stand and chows down while Gwen gets to nurse her fill. Once Gwen's belly is full, she hops down and staggers around in a state we like to call 'milk drunk.' Lately, Gwen has taken up the oh so endearing habit of wiping her slimy milk mustache face on my rear end while I finish milking out Thea.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Say Cheese!

Just look at this wonderful batch of fresh, delicious goat cheese!

I must remember to thank Josie and Thea for all their hard work.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Building Raised Garden Beds on the cheap

Well, at this point I think we can officially declare our original garden area a big whopping failure. The area I picked out didn't get nearly as much light as I'd hoped once the trees that border the back side got their foliage. Plus, I just could not keep up with the weeds in a space that big. At this point, the only things thriving in the giant, green, tangled mess is the asparagus patch and the peanuts which started as two tiny plants that now take up at least 6 square feet. At least the rabbits are enjoying the variety of weeds that I chop down in there for them on a regular basis. 

I decided to take a huge step back and try growing our food on a much smaller scale. There's a wonderful patch of the front yard that I'm SURE gets all day sunlight. Since the soil here on the farm is total crap (clay so thick you could dig up a handful and throw a vase from it), I decided to build some small raised garden beds. 
  
I started by getting a bunch of free pallets from my local feed store and dismantling them with the help of a jig saw, two hammers, a crow bar, and a dremmel. Let me just say that pallets were never meant to come apart. This was by far the hardest part of the process.


Next I built the boxes using the flat top and bottom boards as the side walls. I cut the thicker sides of the pallets to use as corner braces. I was even able to salvage some of the heavy duty corkscrew nails to reuse so the boxes ended up costing a total of zero dollars to make.

The next step was filling the boxes. I hate HATE paying for dirt, but the compost pile is nowhere near ready for harvesting so I settled on a couple bags of cheap potting soil mixed with lots of half broken down sheep manure (no shortage of that around here!) and some old grass clippings. A bit of shredded paper got into the mix too, but I figured it wouldn't do any harm.

Here is the first completed box with cabbages up front and some cucumber plants that I had started from seed in a pot a long time ago and forgotten about. As the weather seems to be finally cooling off around here, I'm not holding out a lot of hope for late, late season cucs. 

 First and second boxes all set to go. The second box is full of broccoli plants because I love broccoli!

I'm hoping to build at least two more boxes this coming weekend in order to grow mustard and collard greens (these are mostly used in the dog food), cauliflower, and brussels sprouts. I just love winter vegetables!

Is anyone else out there just starting their fall gardens?