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, August 19, 2013

It's a girl...finally!

  So we thought Thea's due date was some time around Wednesday of last week. Days and days and days of checking Josie and then Thea every 2-3 hour around the clock were starting to take their toll on Big Onion and me. We took turns on the night shifts, napping on the couch between trudging out to check on the girls and getting very little else done around the house and farm. The added stress of feeding, wrangling, and cleaning up after three rambunctious bucklings wasn't helping much either.

  Night before last I was on duty. Every time I checked on her, Thea was looking closer and closer to going into labor. Her vulva was swelling, and her udder was finally starting to fill up. It was about 11am. I had gone out to get a (late) start on morning chores while Big Onion was making us both some much needed coffee and breakfast. I came around the corner by the turkey pens to find Thea laid out on her side and already pushing for all she was worth!



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Are you my mommy?

 "Are you my mommy?"


Got to watch out for that vicious "pit bull," he might lick the kids to death.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

It's a boy...and a boy...and another boy


  Since Josie started showing signs of labor Monday afternoon, I had been out checking on her every couple hours around the clock. Yesterday afternoon when the sky turned dark and it started to pour down rain, I knew I'd better go out and check on the girl. Somehow it seemed only right that Josie would  choose the nastiest possible weather to kid. 


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Kid Watch 2013: Update - Still kidless!


  Josie started this afternoon with that I thought was labor. She was breathing heavy, looked very uncomfortable, and stretching a lot. That was about 12 hours ago. Well, since then I must have walked a total of miles and miles from the house to the goat rooms checking on her every couple hours.

  We are also running up on Thea's due date now and neither girl seems to be ready to get down to business. When I last check on them, Josie was downing hay like it was going out of style, and Thea was sleeping peacefully in the milk room.

  I just wish they'd get on with it already before I become too sleep deprived and delirious to deal with delivering and caring for two to god knows how many kids!


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Kid watch 2013

Josie is due any minute now so we are officially on kid watch.

As you can see, she is roughly the size of a small aircraft carrier with a very full looking udder.

She is really waddling around these days, but being hugely pregnant in this blistering heat hasn't changed her temperament one bit. She's still full to the brim with piss and vinegar, and that's the way we love her.

Our Thea should be due just a few days after Josie.

As you can see, she is not carrying nearly as wide as Josie. Her gut is hanging low instead. If I didn't know this girl's normal shape or hadn't had her tested, I'd be wondering if she was pregnant at all. 

Both our mommas to be are still out grazing in the hot sun like nothing unusual is happening. Meanwhile, we've been checking udders and goat rears several times a day for any indication of impending kid-hood.


  Since both the girls are CAE+, we plan on pulling and bottle raising babies. We just got a negative CAE test back for Gertie, and we have a freezer full of her milk ready and waiting. Today I taped up both girls' teat just in case they decided to go all ninja and kid on us without any warning.

  Before I taped Josie, I milked out her udder in hopes of keeping her from getting congested like she did with Gwen. I was also hoping to get some colostrum from her that we could heat treat and have ready for when the little ones arrive. Unfortunaly, what I got was white and salty. I guess the real colostrum doesn't come until momma is really ready to kid.

  The next few night will be very short on sleep as we will be checking on the girls every few hours and keeping our fingers crossed that we will be there with the catcher's mitt ready when they  decide to kid.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Poult update

  Our turkey poults are doing well. They have started growing feathers and were feeling a bit cramped in the brooder so we moved them out to a cage in the poultry house. With the weather so hot, we only need to turn on the heat lamp for them at night and even that won't be necessary for very much longer. 

   Since we lost a couple of the broad breasted whites and there seems to be a lot of interest in locally grown, pastured thanksgiving turkeys, I picked up this batch of pretty little bronzes at the feed store last week to boost our numbers. They are at least 3-4 weeks old already, and my guy at the feed store gave us a great deal for taking the whole batch off his hands.

   These guys are super vocal and really sweet. It's hard to change their food and water since every time I reach in, they want to climb up into my hands. I'm doing my darndest not to get attached to the little buggers. I love raising turkeys, but man there are going to be a lot of big birdies running around our pastures very soon!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Rabbits on pasture

  Things are hopping along with the rabbits. The heat is hard on these furry creatures so we have set up a fan inside the poultry house. We had a little trouble getting Bigwig, our buck, to do the deed on his last go-round with the ladies. They say the heat can even turn the boys sterile. Poor thing.

   I had put Zinny, one of our older does, in with him to breed and came back to find her humping him! I had to removed her from the pen before the poor guy lost all his dignity. He was finally able to get the job done when we put the two together first thing in the morning after a somewhat cool night. If the breeding took, those buns should be due this coming weekend.

  Meanwhile both the smaller pasture pens are full of mommies and babies. Crazy T is out there with her brood of 8 (above), and Haystack has her two little black bunnies in the A-frame style pen. The turkeys have decided that pen makes a great perch for an afternoon nap.

  The big bunny tractor is back out in the pasture since the little so and so's were digging holes in our backyard. They are loving all the tall grass out there and are growing like weeds. Of this batch, we will probably be keep one of the chinchilla colored does. We will also probably keep one of Haystack's black babies if one is female.


 We are going to phase out some of our adult does. We like having the colored rabbits around. Plus some of the girls just aren't performing up to par. To that end, we are looking for a pet home for our sweet Clover. She was one of the first two does that we started with over a year ago. She's the smallest of our does, and her pregnancies were always hard on her. So, if you know of anyone in the area looking for a sweet pet bunny girl, please let us know!

Monday, August 5, 2013

On backs and lambs and crazy goat boys

  One of the things you learn from farming is not to take anything for granted, especially if that thing is your health. I've been having some back pain the last few days and although it's not terrible, it is enough to keep me from doing things in my normal way.

  This morning one of the lambs died. We knew this lamb had been having problems for a while now. We kept seeing her with the dirty rear that usually means diarrhea in sheep. We'd thrown three different types of dewormers at her with no success. Big Onion actually had his hand on her yesterday, and while she was low in weight, she was by no means emaciated. Her mucus membranes weren't even pale. The next step was going to be antibiotics, but I guess the crazy heat we had yesterday was too much for her. I found her body this morning near the bridge as I was putting Rocky out for the day.

 
  What should have been an easy job of collecting and disposing of the body turned into a whole ordeal involving a garden cart, the four wheeler, and one very brave dog. You see, on top of my having back issues, Rocky is in rut. This makes him just about impossible to deal with. He actually caught me with a horn while I was inspecting the dead body. I'll be honest, he's lucky my back isn't 100% or he probably would have joined that lamb in the afterlife pretty quickly after that.


 Luckily, I have Luna around to protect me from girl crazy goats boys. I had to have Luna chase Rocky away from the gate and hold him on the other side of the bridge so that I could safely bring in the 4 wheeler with the garden cart in tow. This took some convincing on my part as Luna was much more concerned about the dead lamb than the crazy goat.


 Eventually with her help, I was able to get the body bagged and loaded up without having to physically carry it more than the foot or so onto the cart.

Unfortunately, things did not go completely smoothly. While I was trying to wrestle the gate closed, Rocky saw an opening and b-lined it for the unsuspecting goat ladies grazing nearby. He was singing and snorting and prancing around like a fool. Girls! GIRLS!! Thank goodness he decided to go for Gertie because that old broad can take care of herself. She saw him coming and took off.

  When she circled around to give him a taste of her horns I was able to snag his collar and get him headed back onto the bridge. Gert followed right along behind us. I figured maybe she was actually interested in spending some quality time with that crazy dude so I put her on the bridge with Rocky.

  After a couple of chases back and forth Gert decided she'd had enough and nailed Rocky to the railing with her horns. I figured it was time to break up this love fest and moved Gertie safely back on my side of the gate.

Here's a video of Rocky being ridiculous just after losing his chance at love:


You'll want your sound turned on for this one, trust me.

I think that was quite enough farm-related adventure for me for the day. I think I'll be spending the afternoon inside.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Pasture Mowing

 A couple weeks ago, we took our new riding mower out into the pasture to mow a small area of the field so we could see how the grass recovered. It grew back quickly and looked healthier than the unmowed areas, so I decided to try to tackle the task of mowing the whole front pasture (about 1.5 acres) with our "lawn tractor." I knew my timing was right when I saw that our next door neighbor had mowed his hayfield (above).

 
 Before and after mowing. It's hard to tell from the pic, but in some places I was trucking thru 1-2 foot tall grass.

 The peanut gallery who I swear were pointing and laughing at me every time I came by on my tiny tractor.

 My view from the cockpit. As I sweated my tush off and wrestled the machine out of pot holes and over small ant mountains, I couldn't help but envy our neighbor's giant, air conditioned, completely enclosed, stereo speaker-ed beast of a tractor. Of course, I have to say that this riding mower is a huge improvement on the push mower that I used to use to mow paths out there.

I'm such a spazoid that I managed to get the mower stuck in the "pond" I tried to dig for the ducks in the middle of the pasture. It's been dry for a while so I thought it'd be fine to drive through. Thank goodness for the wench on the front of the 4 wheeler.

The ducks, chickens, and turkeys had a great time hunting bugs in the newly mowed field.

After letting the cut grass dry for a couple days, I raked it all unto piles by hand. Actually gave myself a blister on the dang rake handle, but I got it all up. The dried clipping make great bedding in the poultry pens so I wasn't going to let it go to waste. 

You know you have good neighbors when they see you sweating your hind end off in the field and call you over with an ice cold can of the Champagne of Beers!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Preparing for Thanksgiving


These little guys just came in the mail last Friday! We got a bunch of broad breasted white turkeys from Welp Hatchery that should be grown just in time for Thanksgiving. We also got just a few Bourbon Reds to add to our small breeding flock. We are hoping that by next year we will be able to offer farm bred, free range, heritage breed turkeys for Thanksgiving!

 One of the little white turkeys came to us with what looked like splay leg. We went ahead and did the usual treatment of taping the legs and every couple hours I went in and did turkey physical therapy with the little guy. I was able to get him up on his feet and moving normally with a little support. By the second morning, he was getting up and around on his own without the tape. Unfortunately, by that afternoon it was obvious that there was something more wrong with the little guy. He wasn't growing and by the following day, he had passed away. Sometimes the stress of being shipped across the country is just too much for these young birds.

This is one of the Bourbon Red babies. In the few days we've had the turkey poults, the whites, who are bred for super fast growth, have already outgrown the reds by half, but what they lack in size, they make up for in spunk. They are much more active and outspoken in the brooder. For myself, I'm just happy to have more turkeys. I think think these curious creatures are some of my favorite poultry to raise.

We'll be putting out the call for pre-orders on Thanksgiving turkeys very soon so stay tuned!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Who's in charge here?

"Um, Gwen. 'Scuse me."

"Sorry, I need to get through ... pardon me ... um ..."

"Ok, I'll just squeeze through ..."

Princess Gwen needs her beauty rest and cannot be disturbed. 

Doing my best impression of a human scratching post.