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.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pepper has popped: Meet Marcie!

Our sheep ambassador Peppermint Patty ("Pepper"), who always seems to be the first to come and greet us, lambed yesterday afternoon! We got home from our day jobs and saw her standing, doting over the newborn lamb like a good mama. Given Pepper's full name we only thought it appropriate that her first ewe lamb be called Marcie. When Pepper calls, Marcie gives a little response and we like to think she's saying, "Yes, sir." She seems to have inherited Pepper's notable grumble of a bleat, which always makes me laugh.

This is important for us because it's the first ruminant (that is, sheep or goat) where the newborn was both conceived and birthed on the farm. Our lambs from last year came from the pregnant stock we purchased, and Josie came already pregnant with Gwen.

So, congrats, Pepper! We'll be keeping a close eye on these two. We've witnessed some suckling (as obvious from above!) and this morning Marcie felt like she had a full belly.  We have learned in the past, though, that lambs are very fragile. We're expecting a few more of our ewes to lamb soon, but since we've been letting both Elvis and McLovin' stay with the ewes it'll be hard to tell.

Also worth mentioning: Pepper's udder looks pretty big, so Kaela is going to take a shot at milking her in a couple of weeks. Sheep's milk has about twice the fat content of goats which makes it perfect for cheese making. (In fact, traditional feta in the EU can only be made from sheep's milk!) I'm sure we'll keep you updated on how that adventure goes ... and knowing the sheep, it'll certainly be an adventure!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Jenni

I posted a couple weeks ago about our little Jenni not doing so well. She'd been getting progressively worse for a while and we had decided that since her quality of life was so poor that we would choose not to treat her and hopefully let her pass on her own.

  Well, we spent a week making sure she was happy and comfortable, giving her whatever she felt like eating. We expected that any day we would go out and find her gone but Jenni had other plans. She was a tough little goat, and even as weak and sick as she was she wasn't going to go out easy.

   We even thought for a couple days that she was getting better; putting on weight and getting stronger. I even went so far as to give her some antibiotics and B vitamins to see if things could turn around for her.

  Then last weekend she just crashed. She got so weak that she would fall over and couldn't get back up with out help. We finally made the decision that on Monday I would take her to our local large animal vet to the euthanized.

  That morning, while I was milking the other girls, Jenni fell down three times and needed help even getting her head and shoulders back upright. The third time, I got her into an upright and comfortable position laying in the hay and told her what was going to happen. Then I headed back up front to pick up the milk, call the vet, and put a large dog kennel in my car to transport the little girl.

  When I went back to get Jenni, she was standing, waiting for me at the gate. She somehow got herself up and made her way to a place in the pasture she hadn't been in weeks, if not months. It may sound silly, but I took it as reassurance that we had made the right decision and that Jenni was ready to go.

  I carried Jenni up front and loaded her into my car. She had lost so much weight, carrying her was unfortunately very easy. While we waited at the vet's office, I sat in the back of the car talking to Jenni and feeding her oatmeal and cabbage leaves, some of her favorite food. My wonderful large animal vet came out and Jenni went very quickly without any distress at all. She was finally able to leave her arthritic, painful body.

  My vet did say that what happened with Jenni is what happens with CAE+ goats at the end. They just start to waste away. Everything falls apart all at once, and they are just not strong enough to fight off things like worms and infections.

I brought Jenni's body back with me to the farm. I thought it was important that the other goats, especially her companion Josie, know that Jenni was gone and not just missing. I laid her in the middle of the goat yard and all the girls gave her a little sniff before heading back out to graze. We had our own little goat wake.

  I managed to pretty much hold it together all day. It wasn't until later that evening that I came around the corner to see Josie just standing with her head hanging down, staring into the goat room where Jenni spent most of her time the last few weeks that my heart broke a little. Josie and Jenni came to our farm together and were virtually inseparable until Jenni got too sick to go out grazing every day. We even wondered if the two girls were related somehow.

  All in all, I really think we made the right decision. If we had known that Jenni wasn't going to go on her own, we would have brought her to the vet sooner. Goats are way tougher that sheep, and little Jenni was a real fighter to the end.

R.I.P. Jenni

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Quiet on the set!


A couple of weeks ago we were used as a location for a University of New Orleans Department of Film and Theater student film production. Since we're both alumni from UNO and I currently work there, we were more than happy to work with them.

The director had come out a couple weeks before, then came the following week with some of his lead crew (producers, cinematographers, etc.) and then the whole cast and crew came last Sunday for the actual filming. We were a little hesitant about the whole thing, mostly since they wanted a more "natural" farm environment, so we just let our animals out to pasture as we normally would. This meant chickens, ducks, geese, goats, and sheep would be everywhere. We had lambs in the backyard and bunnies in their Bunny-topia. We had just had a few days of heavy rain so there was mud everywhere.

The goats got into everything, as was expected. The crew was very patient, and we stayed by to play handler to the goats, which involved a lot of, "No, Gwen, that's not food. Thea, get away from the dolly tracks. Thea, stop eating the actor's lines." (And yes, she did eat one of the lead actor's lines ... sorry about that!)

We ended up using the Grizz and the trailer to help them move some equipment around, which gave them the opportunity to get some nice dolly shots on the bridge going from the second to the third pasture. It looked really, really cool.

Gertie hung out by the crew for a good 5 minutes or so, just watching what was happening.

I've never been on an active set like this but it was fascinating to watch them work. You would never have guessed these were students. They were fantastic and when they left it was like they were never here at all. At the end of the day we got to see some of the footage: they shot mostly in the house and in the first pasture, and it looked fantastic. And by "fantastic" I mean the cinematography, lighting, acting and everything else that goes into what you see was fantastic. The state of the fields after so much rain made it look a little dilapidated, but it was what they were going for so it ended up great.

We were glad to have had them, and they seemed to have had a great day of shooting. They say a final cut will be ready around late April/early May, so hopefully we can find a way to show it to you!

Why did the chicken cross the dolly tracks?

If you want some more information about the University of New Orleans Film program, please visit their website or contact the department at (504) 280-6317.

If you think you might want to use us as a location for your film, please contact me directly at anthony @ hightailfarms.com (remove the spaces, obviously).

Photos courtesy of Alex Payne and Jordan McVey. Thanks for allowing us to use them!

Monday, March 4, 2013

A bird in the hand and a bulldog in the backyard

This morning as I was doing chores I kept hearing Barley, our bulldog mix, barking. Barley almost never barks unless there is something to bark about, and the shelties (for once) weren't barking with him. After 3 or 4 single loud WOOFs from hin, I decided to stop cleaning out bunny pens and investigate.

Barley was standing at the backyard fence line furiously staring down at a clump of tall grass just on the other side of the fence. I figured he'd found a nest of mice and was just about to double back and collect Hunter, our barn cat, to take care of it when I saw a little red tuft of feathers just barely peeking out from under the grass.

Turns out Barley is not just a good snake hunter and rabbit watcher, we can now add quail detector to his list of accomplishments. It seems this little girl somehow escaped the quail pen and was just looking for a place to hide when a bulldog started barking in her face. I tucked her back into the enclosure, and she immediately went for the feeder to get herself some breakfast.

He may not be a herder, but I guess Barley has found a way to be a useful farm dog after all.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Runaway goats

I've been feeling under the weather for the last week or so. I managed to catch a cold that just kicked my butt. Yesterday, I was feeling particularly icky and decided morning chores be damned, I was gonna get a little extra sleep. With one thing and another, I was quite late getting out back to release the poultry and milk the goats.

 I guess the goat ladies got impatient and decided that I was never coming out to give them their breakfast because four of the girls decided to up and run away from home!

I've had to retrieve the ladies from the back pasture for their morning milking before when I was running behind, but this was the first time that they decided to fly the coop so to speak.

See those black and white dots on the other side of the fence? 
Yeah, that's our goats in the neighbor's field. 

Luckily, our goats seem to like me a lot and like getting their morning scoop full of tasty goat chow even more. I started calling their names, and I had a mini caprine stampede on my hands complete with Gertie and Thea pulling off some ridiculous happy goat hops and dances on their way to the front. I'm not sure which is more hilarious, Thea's prancing that looks like a drunken camel falling down a sand dune or Gertie trying to fly thru the air with about two feet of pendulous udder flopping around underneath her. Meanwhile the youngsters, Gwen and Eve, are running behind trying to headbutt everything in sight!

Thea photobomb! 

On a much sadder note, Big Onion and I are pretty sure that little Jenni is not going to be with us much longer. If you will recall, Jenni is our CAE positive girl. Since she came to us she has suffered with almost debilitating arthritis. I tried a number of different supplements and medications to try and help her, but nothing seems to make much of a difference in her quality of life.

Lately she has started rapidly dropping weight. We tried worming her repeatedly with very little success  She's very weak, and her appetite is odd. She only wants to eat certain things. Turns her nose up at goat food and alfalfa, but last night she literally almost choked to death to trying to scarf down cracked corn.

This morning she was going after spilled chicken feed which is really odd for her. Normally she will not go near any feed that has touched the ground. I walked away for a second and came back to find that she had fallen down in a heap with her head under her body. Poor girl.

We are not sure if it is just the CAE finally catching up with her or something else going on, but Big Onion and I have made the hard decision not to take any major steps of intervention in her case. Her quality of life was never good. She was always in pain, and anything we do at this point will only prolong her suffering.

This was a really hard choice for us to make. Working for a vet, it's against my instincts not to try and fix this poor old girl, but I think we have made the right choice. Tomorrow, I will give her some pain meds, let her eat whatever she wants, and hope for the best.