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.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Frozen

Other rejected post titles: Sneaux-pocalypse, Ice-mageddon (saw both of these on facebook this week)

  We are having an unusually cold winter here on the farm. Of course, I should say right now that what we are experiencing is nothing compared to what folks north of us have to deal with on a regular basis, but for us, even just dropping below freezing presents a whole new set of problems that we are not used to dealing with. Seriously, I don't know how you folks up north do it!

  This particular cold snap closed down roads and schools and both of our day jobs, but here on the farm, it wasn't nearly as eventful as a couple weeks ago when our temperatures dipped into the teens. We had two different pipes burst, one in the processing shed and the other in the poultry house.

  The spigot actually blew off the poultry house sink while we were at work that time causing water to rocket up to the ceiling of the building and cascade all over everything inside, including the closest rabbit pen with 7 baby bunnies. We were at work at the time and came home to a strange roaring sound coming from the building. We don't know how long the thing was jetting out water, but the ground all around the building was saturated and everything inide was soaked. Thank goodness none of the animals seemed worse for the wear, and nothing got wet that couldn't be dried.

   Since then, we have learned how to shut off the water to those out building and to run the pressure off the lines and hoses. This time our worse pipe related casualty was an old, old hose spigot that only the neighbors use. In all cases, Big Onion stepped up to the plate and was able to use his amazing ability to fix just about anything that's broken to set things right quite quickly.

Below are some pictures from our most recent freeze...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

O Mother, Where Art Thou?

Normally Kaela does the posting on our blog here (and an amazing job she does, at that) but after the events of a very cold evening last week, she asked that I recount my own story. I'll do my best to be brief ... but I can make no promises.


It was a dark and stormy night ... actually, it wasn't stormy and the sun had just set as I had finished putting away the birds so it wasn't really dark, but it was quite chilly. Kaela was at her day job so I was flying solo.  My normal order of operations is to put the birds away (which includes feeding, watering, and collecting eggs), feed and water the rabbits, drop something for the sheep to snack on since the winter has left little pasture for them, and then milk the goats. Since we've been expecting lambs I like to get a chance to do a headcount and a rear-end check.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Rialey vs the Ducks

 Rialey has been settling in on the farm nicely so we decided it was high time to see what this herding dog was made of. I set up a small, circular pet and carefully picked out a nice group of young Pekins.

 But try as I might, I could not interest that little girl in herding those ducks. I tried cheering. I tried begging. I even tried running after them myself, but Rialey just didn't see the point in chasing those quacking, flapping white things. Live and let live.

 Finally, I remembered that English Shepherd are said to learn by watching, so I had the brilliant idea of inviting Luna into the pen to show the new kid how it's done.

Well, it was like someone flipped a switch. Rialey said, "What?! I get to chase them?!" and it was on.

 She bark, she bounced, she bit her some ducks.

 Eventually, she settled down a little and started moving the ducks.


 Ok, maybe she didn't settle down that much.

 Since she had the basic idea, I put the leash back on...

 and showed her how to calmly walk behind the ducks which she said was not nearly as fun!

Overall, the girl did great and got lots of praise and treats for her hard work.

Here's a video of the action that the Big Onion was kind enough to take with my fancy new video taking camera. Enjoy!



Do you like my new shoe?

  So the other day, I was out doing chores when Thea came around the corner walking a little funny. I thought it was just her CAE and the cold bothering her joints when I noticed that she had decided to make a bold fashion choice instead.

I have no idea how this happened. Best guess is Blaze, the barn cat, dug the empty can out of the trash and DumDum the goat (seriously, we love her, but Thea is not a smart goat) had managed to wedge her hoof into the thing.

  And let me tell you, wedge she did. I had to find a pair of pliers to cut that can off her foot! When it was removed, Thea had a small cut on the back of her hoof. Beauty is pain, I suppose. I gave her a good spray with Blue Kote and tried to convince Thea that blue is a much better color on her!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Broody henny - part 3

I has just occurred to me that I never did finish telling the story of our broody hen. (Part 1, Part 2)

  Well, she sat on that nest and sat on that nest, and I was very careful never to leave the door to that pen open again. The blessed day finally arrived, and I found a little yellow head poking out from under her chest! A few hours later, I checked back and found that henny had hatched out three little chicks, two perfectly yellow and one black. All was going well, so I left our hen with her young to do her mothering thing and picked up a bag of chick feed on my feed store run that day. 

  That evening I checked back and to my horror found one of the little yellow chicks dead! It's poor little body was all beat up, and I knew there was no way anything could get into that cage. I did some quick googling and found that some first time hen mothers are so broody and so hell bent on protecting their nests that they attack anything that moves, even their own chicks! The other two chicks were still tucked safely under momma, and they seemed fine. I cleared the poor little chick's body and hoped that henny would figure out this whole mothering thing with the other two. After all  the while point of this experiment was to let nature do it's thing and take the burden of incubating and rearing out of our hands. 


  The following morning, I found the hen sitting up on the pole in her enclosure and the other two chicks laid out in front of the door, dead. They had obviously suffered the same fate as their sibling. With a heavy heart, I cleaned out the cage and left the door open for that dang hen to join the rest of the flock for good.

  So our broody hen experiment was a big, whooping failure. Will we try it again? Probably. The weather has been so cold that none of the hens have even thought about going a family way. We also have an incubator full of chicken and turkey eggs that we plan to brood ourselves without the help of a dumb hen who can tell friend from foe.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bunny Birth Announcement!

 I've very happy to report that after a long and somewhat baffling hiatus, we are back in the rabbit rearing business. These are the first litters we have had in at least 6 months. Not that we were trying very hard to make more rabbits during that time. We were slightly distracted rearing baby goats and planning a wedding.

  Primrose and T chose some of the coldest nights of the year to kindle (give birth), but thankfully, both are experienced moms who delivered all their babies in the nest box (not on the bar of the cage which sometimes happens) and both lined their nests with lots of their own fur for warmth.

Our T is raising a litter of 7 all white, fat, healthy bunnies.

Primrose has 8 babies, and all are white....

except this grey behemoth who is roughly twice the size of his litter mates and full of spit and vinegar!

Our Holly had her first litter of 5 one very cold night about a week after the other two girls. Her litter was a bit of a surprise as we figured her breeding didn't take, and she wasn't show any signs of pregnancy.

Unfortunately, one of her kits died just a day or two after birth. This bunny was tiny from the start. It seems with just about every litter you are likely to lose one or two at the start, especially with a first time mom.

As you can see, Holly is a very good and protective mom. She padded her nest with lots of fur and is in her nest box nursing those babies regularly.

I can't wait for these bunnies to get big enough for the outdoor pens. That's when the real fun starts!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Rialey's first farm walk

  It took a few days for little Rialey, our newest pup and future chore dog, to settle in on the farm. She was feeling under the weather the first couple days, even running a slight fever. It's also becoming clear  that she is a very compassionate, caring puppy so I think she was mourning the loss of her previous canine and human family as well. Between not wanting to overwhelm her and having to work, it was about a week before we were able to take the little girl out into the pasture.

I was trying to watch the puppy, Luna, the goats, and all the other  livestock while taking pictures. Not an easy task.

She impressed me right away by chasing the goat kids back away from the gate. Amelia even tried to get tough with her, and little Rialey got right in her face, barking and snapping at her nose until she turned tail and ran.

The kids were less than amused by this treatment, but they didn't try any funny business with her again.

  Overall, Rialey did really well. She was tail up, happy, and taking treats the whole time. It was interesting to watch her react to all the livestock. She kept looking over to Luna for clues on how to behave around them. Luna for her part, kept a buffer zone around the puppy so that nothing out there could come and harass the new guy. Luna even went so far as gripping one of the older goats who was showing just a little too much interest in the pup.

  I've been told that English Shepherd learn their work by watching, and I've already seen that in Rialey. We'll be setting up a small circular practice area soon so that we can start working on herding basics with some of the younger pekins. A lot of our sheep ladies are very pregnant and very grumpy so sheep herding might have to wait until she's a little older and more confident. Either way, I'm really looking forward to getting this girl out there working!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Murphy's Four Wheeler

  The other day I made my usual run to the feed store and picked up  several various bags of poultry, rabbit, and goat feed. Normally I use the four wheeler to move the feed from my car in front of the house to the farm buildings behind the house and backyard.

  On this particular day, I gathered the bike and gate keys, pulled on my farm boots, and headed out back to the bike. I took minute to clear the small, round, brown presents the goats love to leave all over their favorite lounge chair and hopped up onto the bike. I should have known that something was amiss when the thing started up on my first try and didn't die once while I backed it out of the overhang and navigated across fields and through the pasture gate.

  I parked the bike right behind my car in the driveway and left it running while I proceed to load it up with about 300lbs of feed. Just as I was dropping that last bag onto the back rail of the idling bike, the thing coughed once then died. Crap.

  Not to worry, the four wheeler is a fickle thing that is prone to dying at random times if not properly warmed up. As my father says, "She's cold natured." No kidding, dad.

   I hopped on the bike and tried to start it, no go. Sputter, sputter, sputter, but no turn over. I open the gas tank and stare down into a bottomless, gasless vacuum. Double crap.

  Grab the key out of the bike and dash around the house, the backyard, and the farm hopelessly searching for a gas can that actually contains gas before someone noticed the unattended bike sitting out front. No luck. I run to the neighbors' place to borrow some. No one is home.

  So now I have a huge, dead four wheeler loaded with 300lbs of feed that is dead and blocking my car in the driveway. Not to mention the fact that we needed all that feed that day, and I am in no shape to lug that kind of poundage that kind of distance, let me tell you!

  I call Big Onion at work in a panic just certain that I cannot push this huge thing anywhere and if I leave the bike unattended in the front yard for even as long as it would take to run down the road to the gas station some ne're-do-well will happen upon it and somehow steal the dead thing right off our driveway. I had a brief vision of leaving Luna on the bike to guard it while I ran for gas. Like that would deter anyone.

  Big Onion talks me off a ledge. He tells me to unload the 300lbs of feed, and just push the bike out of the way of my car. It's going to be fine, he says. I follow his instructions and the beast of a bike is mercifully easier to move than I had expected, toss a couple empty (why are they always empty?!) gas cans into my car, and hightail it to the nearest gas station where I somehow manage to splash gas all over the back of my drivers seat and myself while loading the gas cans back into the car.


  Speed back to the house to find that thank heavens the local ne're-do-well community is taking a day off. I empty one whole 5 gallon can into the bike and hop back on confident my problems for the day are over.
 
   Sputter, sputter, sputter, cough, cough, nothing. Seriously?! Big Onion gets a second phone call, this one laced with expletives about where this bike can go stick it! Like that makes any sense at all.

 From my description, Big Onion expertly diagnosed that the dohicky came off the thingamanbob and that I needed to loosen a lugsomthing and wiggle the whatsitsbucket back in place. I'm sure he used real words in there, in fact I distinctly remember the words carburetor and hose, but it might as well have been Latin for all I know about engine repair.

  Once again, Big Onion patiently talked me through doing some minor repair during which I busted open at least one knuckle and found hidden reserves of goat turds deposited all over the bike. Loosen this, wiggle that, tighten this again and faith and begorrah the damn thing started!

  I loaded that 300lbs of feed back on the bike AGAIN trying not to bleed on anything as fast as I could move and sped to the back, left the bike running while I unloaded it and didn't dare turn it off until it was safely parked under cover back where it belongs to take up its usual role as goat lounger and collector of pellets. Just to add insult to injury, can you believe, it started raining while I was unloading the feed!?

Just a typical day here on the farm.

 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rialey: Future Farmdog

  So I have to apologize for the lack of posts in the last few weeks, but for the last week or so I think I have a pretty good excuse. A certain puppy, on her first day with us, chewed through the power chord on my laptop in one good chomp. And who is this tiny force of destruction? Let me formally introduce the newest member of our canine pack and our next farmdog extraordinaire....


Meet Rialey! 

  Rialey (pronounced Riley) is a 12 week old English Shepherd who we are very excited to have here on the farm. Our sweet, hard working Luna is going to be 9 years old in the spring, so we figured it was high time we started training her successor. 

 We chose an English Shepherd because I was looking for a farm dog that would be a little bigger than Luna. A dog who would help with herding the poultry and sheep and keep a watchful eye on all the goings on here on the farm. English Shepherds are an american breed that are truly bred to be farm dogs, selectively chosen and trained for performance and temperament over looks (though you have to admit our girl is awful pretty!).

  We were a bit worried at first because the little girl was very spooky when we got her home. It took a few days and there are still some things that throw her for a loop, but she is really coming out of her shell and shaping up to be a great pup. She already has a firm grasp on the basics of sit, down, stay, and loose leash walking as well as a couple of fun puppy tricks. She is also doing very well with our motley crew of cats and dogs. She and Barley are the bestest of best friends, and I'll often catch her looking to Luna when she is not sure how to response to a new situation.  

  I'm sure there will be tons and tons of posts about the raising and training of our newest farmdog, so please stay tuned!