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, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays!


Happy Holidays from Luna and.....

Anthony, Kaela, Ajah, Sonny, Barley, TeeCee, Piro, Sirius, Isabel, Blaze, Gwen, Josie, Amalthea, Gertrude, Eve, Luciano, Amelia, Nina, Ninya, Maggie, Patch, Fancy, Whoopi, Almost, Louise, Andy, McLovin, Rue, Angus, Annie, Marcie, Bonnie, Daisy, Applesauce, Bea, Arthur, Rupert, Archimedes, AJ, Food, ALD, Frankie, Azul, Bruce, Coco, That Damned Dark Cornish,  Reggie, Bianca, Bebe, Cynthia, Bigwig, Thethuthinnang, Primrose, Blackberry, Silver, Ash, Willow, Holly, and the rest of the HighTail Farms crew!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Broody henny - part 2

  Our broody hen had been sitting on her nest of eggs for about 2 weeks and all was going well. We had another couple hens go broody in that time, so we tucked another nest box next to the first in hopes of going for a double broody hen-a-thon. Unfortunately, the newer hens had no interest in settin for real. They were too busy stirring up a ruckus and pooping on the already broody hen so after the customary 2-3 days in time out, I decided to let them back out into the general population.

  I came out for morning chores and released all the birds as usual then I opened that cage door so that the other two hens could hop right down and into the pasture with the rest of the flock then went about my business feeding rabbits and gathering goats for milking. What I hadn't counted on was our broody hen taking it into her head to jump out of the cage and stretch her legs!

  I came back to an empty cage and a nest full of rapidly cooling eggs in the chilly morning air. I thought surely broody momma would come back to the cage soon. She'd been so dedicated to that nest, I couldn't see her up and abandoning it at the first sign of daylight. My second thought was, crap, birds are rather stupid. This hen has no clue how to get back IN the cage she just left since I had carried her there in the first place. I had to find her, catch her, and put her back in the cage. Only one problem....


  I had already let out the rest of the flock, and we have a lot of white rock hens. Not to mention, trying to get your hands on one hen out in the open who does not want to get caught is darn near impossible.

  I tucked as much hay as I possibly could over the eggs in the nest to try and keep them warm, and Luna and I set out searching for our girl. First, look for a hen in distress. One who looks upset and lost. One who seems to be searching for her nest. No luck. Every hen I saw was just doing their usual chicken thing scratching and pecking and whatnot.


  Ok, don't panic. How else can we identify her? Well, it's been rainy and muddy the last week or so. Look for a clean chicken, one who looks somehow whiter and doesn't have dirt under nails. So Luna and I tried again, searching for the elusive clean-footed broody hen.



  There! Over by the turkey pens! Look how clean that hen's feet are! She looks like she just left some kind of poultry spa and got a full service foot soak and pedicure! Get her! 

  What followed was a good 10 minutes of Benny Hill style chicken chasing in and out of all the pens and around and around the poultry house with Luna trying her best to herd a wild chicken to me and me trying my best not to crack my head on a roosting pole or run face first into a pen door while running top speed after a previously clean-clawed supposedly broody hen! 

  We finally cornered her in the turkey pen, and I was able to scoop her up, screaming and yelling and flapping all over the place (both the chicken and me!) and tuck her under my arm, but not before taking a wing full on to the face which hurts a lot more than you would imagine. 

   I bustled her back to the cage and triumphantly plopped her right in front of her abandoned nest. She took one look at that nest, let out a loud squawk, flew up to the roosting pole at the top of the cage, and refused to come down.

  Ok, don't panic. Either she's just too upset from the crazy chase and will settle down and back onto her nest or I somehow have the wrong hen, but how could that be?! Her feet were so clean! 

  After five minutes, the hen still hadn't come down and I consoled myself to the fact that those eggs would have to come inside and get put in the incubator if they had any chance of hatching. I opened the pen door, took another wing to the face as the hen hot footed her way back out to the pasture and started to gather the eggs into my shirt. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of white doing something rather odd. 

  It was another white rock hen. She was walking around near the cage and what caught my attention was the way she had her feathers puffed out. She would drop her head and spread her wings if another chicken approached her. I'd only every seen chickens do this then they had little chicks in tow. This was our girl!!

  Broody momma was much easier to catch than the first chicken. I sent Luna around, henny puffed up in defense mode, and I snatched her up from behind. I wasted no time in shoving her in that cage, and she immediately climbed into the nest box, settled down on her eggs and started tucking them under her chest with her beak! Luna and I both breathed a sigh of relief. I resolved then and there to band that broody hen and to never leave that cage door open again! 


  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Broody henny - part 1

  We have one cage in the poultry house that opens out into the pasture. We use to as a time out pen for broody hens. You see we keep chickens, a lot of chickens as eggs layers. We count on those chickens to lay their little oblong balls of goodness just about every day. Every once and a while, some bird brained hen will take it into her head to sit on those eggs to try and hatch them. When that happens, the hen stops laying. Really the hen stops doing just about anything. She will sit on that nest nearly 24-7 with a look of zen-like concentration only getting off to eat, poop, and grab a sip of water once or twice a day. 
  For us, that means no more eggs from that hen and an occupied nest box of which we barely have enough as it is for as is. We honestly wouldn't mind the hens brooding their own eggs especially in light of our last incubator debacle, but our dumb hens can't even figure out in which nest box they decided to go broody in the first place and will often return to the wrong, empty box leaving their previously brooded eggs to cool and die. 
  We tried all kinds of way to snap a broody hen out of setting (including dunking in a bucket of water), but the best way we've found is to put the girls in this cage for a few days to cool their heels and get them back with the egg laying program. 
  One day we got the idea of putting one of the rabbit nest boxes into the cages with a couple fake eggs to see if the hen would continue to brood in a more controlled environment. We went through a few hens who just weren't interested, then finally one white rock took up the challenge and plopped herself into that box. After a couple days, we tucked a handful of eggs under her and let her get to settin...


To be continued....

Monday, December 16, 2013

Luciano the Caprine Tripod

  Last Monday, I was heading out to do evening chores when I noticed I was short one small and slightly annoying little goat. The two kids, Amelia and Luciano, always follow me around while I'm out doing chores, but that evening I only had half of the duo haunting my steps. It was starting to get dark, so I finished putting the birds away then went in search of my sweet little Luciano. I found him laying in the middle of the pasture by himself stoutly refusing to come to me. Very weird. 

  As I walked over to him, Luch awkwardly got up on his feet, three of then anyway. He wouldn't put any weight on one of his rear legs and refused to move from the spot. I tried explaining to the little guy that he had three other legs and was, in fact, capable of moving around with said legs. He firmly disagreed and held his ground with a little, pathetic "buh buh buh" which in goat speak roughly translates to, "Nope, I'm broken and done for! Just leave me here to die!" The boy has obviously inherited his mother and half sister's flair for the dramatic. 
  
  With a sigh, I scooped up the pathetic creature and carried him inside. I examined the leg and found a good amount of heat and swelling around the right rear hock. Keeping my fingers crossed that he'd just gotten it caught in something and had a bad sprain, I started him on some homeopathic and herbal anti-inflammatories and hoped that he would get better in the next couple days. 

 By Wednesday, he'd figured out that he could move on three legs, but the leg still felt warm and swollen. He wasn't putting any weight at all on the leg. It was time to call in some professional help. My boss graciously allowed me to bring him in to work with me for an exam and xrays. Amelia came along for moral support and because these two are completely inseparable.

   They were complete angels in the car....except that Amelia somehow managed to pee all over Luciano's rear end! First order of business on arriving at the office was a quick goat bath for the boy.

 Both the kids had a great time running around the parking lot before the office opened.
 They even helped prune some of the landscaping. So helpful.

 But most of the day was spent cuddled together in a big dog crate in the back of the office. I have to say both kids took the change of pace in stride. They were very happy to come out and meet new people and dogs. They came when I called and made very few messes on the office floor. Having a pocket full of corn and frosted mini-wheats helped.

 We did have one client want to know how often we saw rabbits at our office. I'm pretty sure he didn't believe me when I told him the  pellets out in the grass came from my little goats.

  Finally, at the end of the day Luciano got x-rayed. Turned out he had a fractured tibia. You can see the crack toward the bottom right of the above picture. Best guess is he either got the leg caught in something or one of the larger goats nailed him. If that's the case, my money's on Josie for this one.

  My boss made a splint out of fiberglass casting material that we can easily remove in case it gets wet or dirty. Luciano laid on his side on the exam table like a champ while we wrapped the leg in layers of padding, attached the splint, then wrapped the whole thing up in manly blue vet wrap.

  For the next couple weeks, both kids will be living in the backyard pen to keep the little guy from further injury and to make sure that splint stays clean and dry.
  We are hoping that Luciano will start putting weight on the splinted leg soon. I've started doing some clicker training to try and encourage him to put the leg down more. We'll also need to change out the bandaging in a couple days. Hopefully, that the leg will be healed in just a few weeks so the kids can be let loose again. I miss my little "helpers" out there!



Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thanks Josie



This is why we need a double layer of fencing on all of the rabbit tractors. Thanks, Josie.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The loneliest poult

  About a month ago we decided to toss a bunch of chicken and turkey eggs into the incubator. Unfortunately, we had a couple of problems with the power to the 'bator during incubation, and we only ended up with one little bourbon red turkey poult from the whole batch of eggs.

  We set up the brooder and kept the little guy warm and well fed and watered, but the poor little thing just didn't seem happy. I tried putting in our trusty stuffed woot monkey in for company, but every time we checked on the little guy, he was just standing in the corner looking lonely.

  I decided to steal one of the hen raised banty chicks that we have running around out back as a companion for the lonely little poult, but kept forgetting to grab one out from under Cynthia during evening chores. Well, Blaze, our barn cat, decided to help me remember one morning by trying to make a meal out of one of Cythia's young brood.

  I had just finished milking when I heard the unmistakable sounds of a chick in distress moving at high speeds behind me. Thinking, there's no way a young chick could move that fast I followed the furious chirping to find Blaze under the milk stand with the little bird clutched in his mouth. Somehow I was able to grab up both animals in one swoop, bird in one hand, cat in other. I tucked the sodden, rumpled little bird into my pocket then had a talk with Blaze about how birds are friends not food and had't I JUST fed him breakfast and just how disappointed I was in his rude and ungrateful behavior! I'd like to say he skulked off with his tail between his legs, but let's be honest with ourselves, we are talking about a cat here.

 Anyway, the little chick was none the worse for his wild adventure in the feline jaws of death.

And now our little turkey poult has a friend to grow up with. At first, he was a little terrified of his brooder mate, but the two quickly warmed up to each other and now are fast friends. It's hard to predict what growing up with a chicken who probably will top out at about 3lbs max as a companion will do to this little turkey, but it should be interesting to watch!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thanksgiving

Here are a few more of the pictures that Big Onion took on Thanksgiving morning. Many of the animals got special treats in honor of the holiday. The turkeys just felt like showing off. 







We have so much to be thankful for, but today I'd like especially thank everyone who takes the time to read this blog. Even though I don't always find time to post regularly, I love being able to share our incredibly fortunate lives with everyone. Thanks!!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Goats in coats

 We've had some very chilly nights here on the farm recently.

 Here in South Louisiana when the temps drop below freezing and we get a good frost cover on the ground, it might as well be a snow storm for us.

  I finally prevailed over the Big Onion and put a coat on Gwen during some of the colder nights. Big Onion is of the opinion that if we put coats on the goats, they'll never grow proper winter coats to protect them from the cold (and he's probably right about this though I'll never admit it to him!).

   My poor little Gwen has a terrible cough though that we just cannot get rid of. We've been to the vet twice and tried antibiotics, herbs, homeopathics, and vitamins, but she just cannot shake it. The coughing comes and goes in fits and seems worse when she overexerts herself. Otherwise, she seems to be a happy, healthy goat. I'm just afraid that this is a manifestation of her CAE that will only get worse over time.

  With that in mind, I put my foot down and bundled my little girl up in one of the Sheltie's nice warm coats overnight. Goats are much deeper in body than dogs so it wasn't a perfect fit, but it got the job done. We also set up a couple nice cozy areas with a deep beds of hay so that all the goats could snuggle down for the night.

Happy Gwen hanging with her auntie Thea after a cozy night in her goat coat.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A possum's tale

 Over on Facebook, I posted a picture of this little guy who decided to join us on our last turkey processing day.

This little possum was obviously very young and confused. I went as far as nudging the little guy with a stick and he didn't move. 

Well, a few days later, I found this in the backyard. I can assure you that this one is not playing possum. She(?) was huge and very dead. I can only assume that this was the mother of the little guy pictured above and that the pups made an orphan of that baby. I disposed of the body and thought we were done with these varmints for a while until I saw Sonny snacking away at something a few days later. Yep, another day, another dead possum.

I guess I can't complain too much. These varmints are pests on the farm who will steal eggs, eat young chicks, and even kill adult birds if given the chance. I just wish the dogs would quit rolling around in the rotting carcasses of their spoils! Yick!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Luciano and Amelia: Art models in training!

We like Reddit.com. If you've never seen it, I won't ruin it for you -- just go check it out. It's best when first experienced by just blindly jumping in. It's a strange, bizarre place but occasionally you stumble upon something truly fascinating. There's a subreddit called "Reddit Gets Drawn." People submit photos, and other people draw them ... for fun!

I couldn't help myself, so I submitted this photo of the kids that Kaela took last week ...


And here are some of the submissions that we got back!

User GodlessGravy submitted this one -- and they totally nailed it with Amelia's airplane ears! Fantastic!


And then this one, which I absolutely adore, from DoomedJannisary. I thought their personalities were perfectly captured here, with Luciano looking so serious and Amelia looking like an absolute doofus. Ha! They have a page over at Deviant Art with some really incredible photography and other sketches.

And lastly, this one from user OhBonnie who said, "I only had time for a quick sketch." Quick sketch? This is amazing! They have a Flickr page with some more of their art. Really amazing watercolors!


Anyway, we thought were just tickled pink by the responses and thought we'd share them with you all (with the artists' permission, of course!) Many thanks to each of them for taking their time to draw our little furry friends.

I can't say this is the last time I'll be submitting a photo of farm like for them to draw, so hopefully we'll have some more in the future!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Rabbit Update

 Last weekend, I finally got around to adding an extra layer of fencing around the big rabbit tractor so that we could get rid of the xpens we had surrounding the whole thing. Having to unlatch and move the extra layer of fencing every time we wanted to move the tractor was getting old. Hopefully the added layer of protection will keep the rabbits in and the predators and nosey goats out.

That same day I discovered that the rabbits had taken it upon themselves to start building their own housing. This is always a possibility when housing adult females on the ground. That hole was deep enough for me to sink my arm all the way to the elbow!

  Right now we have four does and a buck living together colony style on the pasture. So far everyone is getting along just fine. As long as we move the tractor on a regular basis, we don't have too much trouble with the bunnies digging. The only problem we have is that since they are housed with a male, we aren't sure when these girls are going to kindle (give birth) for the first time. We plan on putting them in the raised cages in poultry house when the time comes. Best we can do right now is just a keep a close eye out for any of the girls plucking out chest and stomach fur and trying to build a nest.

This is one of the pretty chinchilla colored bunnies from our last group. We have a male and a female in this color, and I am really looking forward to seeing what colors these guys produce. Following our philosophy of letting nothing go to waste, Big Onion has been dabbling in hide tanning. We are hoping that these rabbits' offspring should produce some really beautiful furs.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Just our goats clownin around

  It's getting chilly out there! 
Gwen says a color coordinated scarf does wonders to keep a little goat warm on a chilly winter morning! 

 Luciano prefers hats. 

"Pretty cunning, don't ya think?"




Friday, November 22, 2013

Turkey Time

 Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we have already started processing turkeys.

  We ended up with about 16 to sell and all are already accounted for. Next year, we will have to increase our numbers again. We have even talked about raising two batches and keeping the first batch in the freezer until turkey eatin' season rolls around. This year we decided to stick to the faster growing broad breasted whites and bronzes. We are hoping that by next year we will have a few of our very own farm bred heritage Bourbon Reds to offer in addition to the commercial breeds.

  We learned a couple really important lessons about turkey rearing this year. For one, darker birds really are harder to pluck and end up with a carcass that just isn't as clean and pretty looking as the whites. We also discovered that you get what you pay for with poultry feed. We made the mistake of trying a new brand of feed with the young turkeys that was slightly less expensive and saw an almost immediate halt in their growth. Finally, we learned that giving vaccinations for fowl pox is absolutely essential when raising turkeys. We actually lost a couple of birds to this early on and a few others had to be very carefully nursed back to health. I think the combination of these things resulted in us having smaller birds than we would have liked in the end.

  Speaking of Bourbon Reds, our two adult toms must know that it is that time of the year because they have decided to start harassing Luna. Poor Luna is so well trained now not to be aggressive that if I'm not paying attention, those toms end up chasing her around the pasture, feathers puffed and looking ridiculous. I actually saw one of the toms trip on a chicken and do a full face forward tumble while trying to go after the dog. It's hard to look dignified with your big ugly turkey head face down in the dirt!

Don't fret for poor Luna, though. One word from me, and she is more than happy to go after those birds barking, snarling, and pulling out mouthfuls of feathers until those suckers back down. I took the picture above just after Luna read that turkey the riot act. You can see him way back there next to Josie, missing breakfast for being such a jerk. We will probably be processing one of those toms for our own table pretty soon. Hopefully that will help knock the other guy down a couple notches and make life easier for our poor farm dog.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Copper wire particles and our goats: Take 2

  It has been about 6 months since we gave all the goats a dose of copper wire particles, so we decided it was about time to treat them again. If you'll recall, last time didn't go so smoothly. This time I was going out by myself, but I was determined to make things go as smoothly as possible this time.


  We had purchased the large cow sized pills of copper to save money. I started by weighing out the copper and packing it into small gelatin capsules. This was easy to do with the help of a tiny plastic funnel on which I had widened the end slightly.
 
 The normal dosage for copper wire particles for goats is 2 grams for young or mini goats and 4 grams for adults. We decided to split the difference for Gwen and Eve and give them 3 grams each since they are both somewhere in between (around 50-60lbs).

  The secret to my success this time was supposed to be this. It's called a "pet piller," and it works great for cats and dogs. I have even been using it with Gwen on a regular basis with no problem. I was soon to learn that not all our goats are as easy to handle as our Gwen.