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, May 30, 2014

Lambing season extended

 We thought we were done with lambing this year when we noticed a couple of our older girls looking a little...rounder than usual. Patch and Nina were looking pregnant. When both girls "bagged up" with milk, we knew there were lambs on the way!

  Early Saturday morning, Nina surprised us by showing up with this little girl.

  Nina was one of the original group of sheep brought here a couple years ago. She was the only female that had not lambed. With her larger stature and bossy nature, we were wondering if we had a rare hermaphrodite sheep who looked female but lacked the internal plumbing for lamb making. Not so!
 
  This girl is a decent size and seems very healthy. Big Onion's family was in town visiting the farm when the baby was born so we gave them naming rights as long as they stuck with the 'B" theme. They chose the name Belle.

   Little Belle has been doing great, and Nina is a wonderful mother. She keeps the baby close and has never once wondered off and lost her baby like some sheep around here.

 We are still waiting for Patch to pop. She has been bagged up now for more than two weeks, and the anticipation is killing us! Big Onion's mother was so sure she would have her lamb while they were here and checked on her several times a day, but Patch is working on her own schedule. Judging by her size and age, we are keeping our fingers crossed for our first set of lamb twins any day now.

Three generations of HighTail ewes: Patch, daughter Fancy, and granddaughter Basil. Here's hoping Patch makes Fancy an auntie very soon!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Happy 13th Birthday, Sonny!

 This sweet boy turned 13 on Saturday. I'm a terrible mother and totally missed his birthday!

 So to make it up to him, on Sunday we invited him out to help with morning chores. The goats were slightly concerned about the addition of a third dog, but quickly realized that Sonny was nothing to worry about. Sonny spent most of the time sniffing out tasty piles of poop to snack on (yick!).

 After chores we played a raucous game of fetch the bottle.

 Despite his advanced age, my old man still gets around pretty darn good. Here he is running full tilt as evidenced by the hover-sheltie pose.

 I credit his longevity and good health to an active life with lots of exercise, a balanced homemade 100% raw diet, and keeping him on high quality joint supplements all his life.

  I got this wonderful boy as a rescue when he was about 1.5 years old. He had been neglected and abused. He was underweight and so matted that the rescue had shaved off all his coat. I was so lucky to find this great guy. He lives to please and will do anything I ask of him. He was nothing short of a prodigy in agility, earning his championship and placing in the top 15 in national competitions more than once. He did everything I asked of him with joy and enthusiasm. His actual official name with all his swanky AKC titles is:
MACH Sonny Bright Sunshine CDX RE HSAs MXB MJB OF

  Part of the reason I even have a farm today is because of a promise I made to Sonny. He absolutely loved herding sheep and was a real natural at it. From the first day I herded with him, I promised Sonny that someday he would have his own flock of sheep. Unfortunately, circumstances have made it so that he cannot really work the flock as much as I would like, but I try very hard to give him a chance to work his sheep as often as I can.

  A couple years ago, we noticed that Sonny's metal acuity was starting to slip away. He wasn't responding to his name or his usual commands. He was easily confused and even seemed to get lost in the house. He was also very short tempered with the other dogs, getting upset ans starting fights at the slightest provocation. Luckily, I happened upon a supplement called Senilife through my work at the vet. It is specifically made for older dogs with dementia. The difference this supplement has made for Sonny is amazing. He is almost back to his old self. The only problem we have now is that the old guy is pretty much deaf. He is happy to respond to hand signals and takes his cues from the other dogs so it really doesn't pose much of a problem anymore. He even came out to obedience class with me last week and no one even guessed there was an issue.  He was darn near perfect as usual!

Happy Birthday, Sonny! Thanks for being the best darn dog a girl could wish for!


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Rialey's First "Sheep Day"

  About a month ago Rialey got to help with her first "sheep day." This is a time we set aside about once a month to do health checks on the flock including checking to see who needs worming and trimming hooves if needed. As you can see, the pup was thrilled with the new challenge...


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Making Chicken Soup

  Back at the beginning of April our local feed store was having a customer appreciation promotion. If you bought a bag of Start and Grow, they gave you 10 baby chicks for free. Since we are such wonderful customers (read that: we give them all our monies every week), the owner let us get two bags of feed and therefore 20 free chicks! Since we were already very well stocked on egg laying hens, we decided to get a batch of "meat birds." These fast growing chickens are bred specifically to turn into little round butterball shaped chickens in a few short weeks. 

  In anticipation of the promotion, the feed store had lots and lots of chickens, and although they are very good about keeping their chicks fed and watered and warm, that many chicks means lots and lots of poops. The little birds I carefully selected and brought home were filthy!

  Let me pause here to talk very quickly about picking out chicks. We have had very good luck with buying poultry from our feed store. They tend to be healthy, and we don't have to worry about paying for or waiting for the chicks to be shipped to us in the mail. (We have had bad experiences with mailed chicks in the past)

  I like to hand pick which chicks come home with me. I look for the chicks who are actively eating or drinking. Looking up out of the box at the world is good too. A sickly chick will generally be hunkered down with one or both eyes shut so I never select a sleeping chick if I can help it. Once I pick out a chick in the brooder, I inspect it closely. Make sure both eyes are open and clean with no crusts around the edges. Check to make sure both feet are normal with the toes all pointing in the right direction (you'd be surprised!). Then I flip the chick over. First I check the umbilical area. Umbilical hernias and infections can happen in chickens believe it or not. Finally, I check the vent (a.k.a. the poop chute) to make sure it is clean and free of any indication of loose stool. Diarrhea in a bird so young and tiny can kill them quick!

Ok, back to the story....

  Since these chicks were going to be brooded outside in the poultry house with a heat lamp, I decided to bathe the chicks. Little chicks are so cute and fluffy for a good reason beyond making us want to love them and squeeze them until they pop! All that fuzzy fluff helps to keep them warm. Crusted down fluff leaves exposed skin for warmth to escape so that meant bath time for the chickies.

  Each chick got rubbed down under warm water in the bathroom sink then I used the hair dryer set on low to get them all dry and extra fluffy. Can't have these little ones catching a chill!

Rialey inspecting my handiwork. 

"It's a chicken."

  Here they are all fluffy clean and ready for their next adventure.

These pictures were taken several weeks ago. Stay tuned for pictures of how these cute little fluff balls are turning into meat monster chickens!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Rialey Update



  I am well overdue for an update about Rialey, our new farmdog. She's about six and a half months old now and is fully into her "teenage years."


 She has gone from my sweet, do anything I ask puppy into a total wild woman. She likes to run over ducks at top speed for no good reason. I have to keep a close eye or she will run the whole flock of sheep from one pasture to another. She loves to run and run and run around the backyard generally annoying the older dogs into games of tag and keep away. She and Barley play endless games of bite-y face and full body wrestling. The other day I even caught her standing ON a chicken. Not trying to harm it in any way, just ya know, using it as a step stool. Rest assured that the chicken was none the worse for it.


  All that said, she's still shaping up to be a really awesome farmdog and general helper. She loves bringing me things. Every evening after dinner, she picks up everyone's bowls and delivers them to either myself or Big Onion (whoever has the best treats of course). She will also carry feed scoop, cups, and small tools so that I have a free hand to deal with pen doors and livestock.


  She comes out with us and Luna for chores every day. She is quickly picking up the rhythms of the farm and seems to understand when something is out of place. One day, I was feeding the bunnies in the pasture pen when a little one hopped right over my foot and out the door. Before I could turn around, put down everything I had in my hands, and get the door secured again, Rialey was right there on that bunny. For a second I was afraid she would try to grab the little thing, but instead she swung around in front of the bunny and put one of her big old muddy paws right on its head as if to say, "Stop right there, mister!" The bewildered bunny stopped right in its tracks and Rialey plopped down right in front of it with a paw on either side and held it there until I could scoop up the errant little thing and put it back into the enclosure. Without Rialey's quick actions, I don't know how I would have caught the little guy.

  She has gone out to a few obedience lessons, mostly for socialization. She has a number of dog friends that she loves to play and wrestle with. She is still learning to trust new people, but is to the point now that she will happily approach most people and accept pets as long as they don't reach over her head too quickly (something to work on). We also went out for one herding lesson. She had a great time working sheep that were much calmer than the ones we have here. I was proud of the confidence she showed working in a strange situation with new people and livestock around. By the end of the lesson she was going around the group and lifting them out of the corners something that is not easy for even an experienced dog to do.


  Around the house she is a total snuggle pup. I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that she often sleeps in the bed with us, something that none of the other pups do. She is already bigger than Luna. Right now she is weighing in right around 35lbs, and I suspect once she fills out she will be in the 45-50lb range. Exactly the size dog we were hoping for!

  Overall, we are thrilled to have Rialey here on the farm and look forward to many years of working together. Thanks again to Caroline Betts of Middle Tree English Shepherds for sending this special girl our way! 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Tough times

A week or two ago we had a gardener at my office pulling weeds and generally sprucing up the greenery. As I was leaving, I noticed that he had a nice full bag of freshly pulled greenery. Since I know my boss does not spray any pesticides in her garden, I asked the man if I could take the bag for my animals to munch on. He said it was mostly clover and grassy weeds, that he was happy for me to take it.

  I tucked the bag into the back of my car, brought it home, and propped the open bag against the pasture fence. Before I had a chance to really dig through it, the goats had discovered the bag and started pulling out and nibbling on the contents....