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, June 17, 2013

Elvis has left the building...er farm

Yesterday, we finally around to processing one of our sheep.

 We brought Elvis onto the farm back in December to act as a second herd sire since we were not sure McLovin, our younger ram, could do the job. When our sheep started lambing only 4 months after he arrived (normal gestation for sheep is about 5 months), we realized that his services were not really needed.

  Elvis had a lot of problems. He had a horn growing into his head that we had to cut back. He was also extremely susceptible to parasites. I feel like we were constantly pouring dewormer down his throat, but we could never seem to get ahead or put any weight on him. Neither of these traits are something we want passed down to our next generation of sheep. 



  So Sunday morning, Elvis got sent off to freezer camp. This was not our first time butchering a large animal, but it is also not something we do very often. We decided since he was so puny and much older than is ideal for tasty lamb, we would just process him for dog food. I'm proud to say that it took Big Onion and I about 2.5 hours to go from sheep in the field to 9 gallon ziplock bags in the freezer. We saved meat, bones, liver, kidneys, lungs, and heart to be fed out raw to the canine and feline crew here on the farm.


 Luna says on the hoof or in her belly, either way she loves her sheep!   

Friday, June 14, 2013

Lap goat

Silly Gwen still thinks she is a lap goat. 

At over 50lbs, there is a reason Big Onion has his legs crossed in this picture! Gwen is also a very good sympathy goat, always there for a hug on a bad day. 

Your hair is delicious! 

This one is my favorite! 
Just love these two!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sad News

This past week we had some unexpected and heartbreaking losses to our family and farm, and have been trying to find the words to share it with you. When we got home from work last Wednesday we found Nova, one of our Shelties, dead in our yard. We can't be sure of exactly what happened, but it looks like some sort of a scuffle broke out between the dogs and she was mortally wounded. From what we can tell it looks like it was very quick for her. We can speculate about exactly what happened, but we'll never truly know.

While still trying to wrap our heads around this, on Saturday morning we found Hunter, our barn cat, had been hit by a car in front of our house. He never had gone out there before as far as we know. We owe our neighbors a special thanks for finding him and helping Kaela care for him in the final moments of his life.

We're still in a bit of shock over all of this. Nova was a sweetheart and a total goofball of a dog. She loved to plop her head on your leg and just stare up at you praying for pets. She would jump on the bed and play wrestle with us while making crazy wookie sounds. She was always the first to alert bark at anything unusual on the farm. Things have been really quiet with her gone. She was also our go-to gal for moving the sheep. Her help on the farm will be sorely missed.

Hunter was the most laid back kitty who loved to be cuddled. He was Gwen's best friend and loved to play with the neighbors and their dogs. Twice a day at milking time, he would dart under the milk stand and wait for his three squirts of milk from each goat.  He also lived up to his name. Before he came to the farm, we had a serious rodent problem. With his help, the rodents around our pens and storage areas have been almost eliminated.

Nova is being cremated and Hunter was buried by the poultry house in a spot where we often found him sleeping on shovels, hay bales, or in pet crates.

Do us a favor and hug your pets, whether they be cats, dogs, goats, or chickens. Here are some of our favorite posts about these two. We miss you both so very, very much.

Nova
http://www.hightailfarms.com/2013/01/the-measure-of-good-farm-dog-nova.html
http://www.hightailfarms.com/2013/02/turkey-is-back-on-menu.html

Hunter
http://www.hightailfarms.com/2012/08/new-hire.html
http://www.hightailfarms.com/2012/09/gwen-and-hunter-bffs-4ever.html
http://www.hightailfarms.com/2013/04/sick-kitty.html

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Breeding like Rabbits



  I can finally say that our rabbits are breeding like rabbits! With the addition of two new (and huge!) does, we are up to six breeding females. This feels like a good number for us. The grow out pen in the backyard is full of Clover and T's last litter. Zinny and Primrose are each nursing litters of their own.

  Hopefully we can finally start to meet the demand of rabbit meat for pet food, and maybe save a few for us to eat as well! Pictured above is one of the newest does. We are calling her Haystack. All our rabbits are named after Watership Down characters, and honestly, there are only so many decent female names in that book.

This is Nyreem, the other new female. She is very, very protective of her new litter. She actually rushes the front of the cage when I just walk by. Not the most desirable of traits in a doe.


  The lady I got her from was kind enough to breed Nyreem to her big black buck before sending her off with us. The litter is an interesting combination of black and white bunnies. There is even one with a grey back, white belly, and white on this inside of his/her ears. I think our eventual plan will be to phase out some of our smaller white does in favor of a couple of larger, colored females. We may end up waiting for Haystack's litter since Nyreem's temperament is such a nightmare, and it has been our experience that this sort of thing is inherited.

 This is Primrose's litter just before their eyes started opening.

I swear this little guy is still alive, just very, very relaxed.

We are getting into a really good cycle of breeding our does in pairs, letting them kindle (give birth) in cages inside the poultry house. When the babies eyes are all open and they are starting to hop around the cage, we move momma and babies to one of the outside tractors. When it comes time to wean, the babies are then moved to the big backyard pen where they have tons of space and all the grass they care to nibble. Not only does this cut back on feed cost, but I think we are raising healthier and happier bunnies!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Don't Fear the Reaper

This is how we mow the backyard these days - with a scythe and a rake (not sure how the gas can got there).

Since, we will soon be getting a real live riding mower, Big Onion and I have been putting off cutting the lawn. It got a little...overgrown. Instead of wasting all that perfectly good goat food, I hauled out my christmas present to myself and got to swinging. It's hard, hot work but extremely satisfying. I even managed to cut my hand on the blade while showing Big Onion how NOT to sharpen it. It's tasted first blood! That can't be good.

As usual, Josie was less than impressed with our efforts. 

Thanks to Ohiofarmgirl for the inspiration to invest in my own reaper's blade and make our own hay for earless goats!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Turkey Update

Our little Bourbon Red turkeys are not so little anymore. They are slow growing, but getting bigger every day. I love it when the turkeys are this age. They are not old enough to be aggressive, but they are big enough to run free with the rest of the flock. This is our first time raising this breed, and they have been the nicest group of birds yet. They are curious and friendly without being too pushy or obnoxious. I also think they are really pretty.

We did end up having to clip turkey wings for the first time with these guys. It seems like as soon as they got fully feathered, the birds started flying all over the place. When the two toms nearly took my head off flying up onto the roof of the shed, I knew it was time to do something about it.

This group of turkeys have been sharing quarters with a couple of guineas and a larger group of ducks that all hatched around the same time. Our eventual goal was to move the young turkeys and guineas into a pen with our remaining 3 adult guinea. The guineas seem to like to follow the turkeys, and this makes them much easier to manage and put away at night.

Unfortunately, I think I made the move a bit too soon. The first first night that we moved all the birds together, we woke the next morning to find that one of our little turkey hens had been attacked. She was missing the skin from the back of her head and neck all the way down to between her wings. None of the other birds were harmed, and the pen was secure that morning. We took the poor girl, who was still alive and responsive but obviously in pain and shock, treated her wounds as best we could, and put her in a cage inside the poultry house. We hoped that since all the damage seemed to be on the surface that somehow she would pull through.

That night when I put the birds away, one of the adult guineas started attacking one of the younger guinea. He was pinning her in a corner, grabbing the back of her neck and trying to climb on her back. Maybe it was extremely over zealous mating behavior, but it was obvious that this male was the one who hurt our poor turkey the night before. The rest of the young turkeys and guineas went back to their pen with the ducks. Then after a lot of chasing and cursing on my part (let me tell you, guinea wing feather to the face HURT!), I grabbed hold of that damn guinea and told Big Onion that he had to go!

Despite repeated trips out to the poultry house to syringe feed water, vitamins, and remedies to our little turkey hen, by morning she had passed away. I guess the shock of it was just too much for her or perhaps she had some internal damage that we could not see.

This leaves us with just four Bourbon Reds, two hens and two toms. One of the toms will be leaving us some time around November (if you know what I mean), so we will probably be looking to add at least a couple more hens to the flock so that next year we can breed our own birds.

We have since moved all of the turkeys and guineas back together with no problems, and needless to say, the dogs and cats enjoyed their guinea meat dinner that night.