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.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Josie's girls

Up next to kid was Josie.



  Big Onion was away from the farm at a meeting when Josie started with the early signs of labor. Luckily, I had my best and oldest friend, K, visiting at the time. With the CAE positive girls, we try our very best to be there when they deliver and pull the babies before momma even has a chance to lay eyes on them. This seems to make the separation a lot easier on the mother. Trying to do this without a second person is almost impossible. It means I have to make a choice to leave either the mother or the babies alone while running back and forth to the house with slimy, soggy newborns. My poor friend had no idea what she signed up for when she decided to visit the farm, but boy was I grateful for her help!

 That curled tail is a sure sign that a goat is in labor and experiencing contractions.


  After morning chores, I got Josie all set up in the goat room and gathered the towels, feed sacks, my camera, and all the other random things I might need in preparation for the big event. I gave my friend a call and said that if she wanted to witness the miracle of life she should come out soon. Well, Josie surprised us because by the time K got out there I had just finished clearing the airway on a tiny brown doeling with blue eyes and LaMancha ears. I plopped the wet and slimy little thing into K's arm with instruction to bring her up to the house and take Rialey to help with cleanup.


   No sooner had I sent her off when Josie was down and pushing again. A few good pushes and out came another little girl! This one was bigger than the first, and she was marked just like her mother! This is the second time that Josie has reproduced herself in an offspring. This latest doeling was the spitting image of Josie and her daughter, Francesca!

  I bundled this little girl up and ran her up to the house where the first baby was already getting dry and starting to get up on her feet. I handed off baby number two then headed back out to check on momma.


  It took a long time and Josie was up and down a lot. Obviously, she wasn't quite done kidding. She pushed and pushed and finally something started to emerge. One look at this baby before she was even totally born and I knew something wasn't right. The head was misshapen somehow, but it wasn't until Josie gave a couple more good pushes and the little thing came into the world that I got a good look.


  It was a little doeling with a light brown head and all white body. My first step when receiving a kid is to clear the nose and mouth. This baby had no nose. It was just...missing. I did my best to clear her airway and to my surprise she gave a pretty strong cry. I bundled her up and headed back to the house. By the time I got inside Big Onion had arrived home, and I had already started spewing a stream of expletives to make a sailor blush.


  K and Big Onion and I all gathered round to look at the newest kid. It became evident very quickly that her misshapen face wasn't the only thing wrong with this little girl. She could not seem to hold her head up properly and never really made an attempt to get on her feet. Despite being dried off, snuggled between her two sisters, and laying near a space heater, she felt cold.


  We decided that the little one probably was not long for this world and with her deformities and obvious mental disabilities we made the hard decision that it was probably best not to intervene. We kept her warm and comfortable, but did not try to feed her. We decided to call the little one Martha because even though she wasn't going to be with us long, she still deserved a name in this world.


  While her sisters got up and learned to walk and then hop, to take a bottle and even to try to headbutt the older kids, little Martha just laid there. Within a couple hours of her birth she was gone. It was peaceful but very sad. It seemed crazy to me that she would make it though 5 months of gestation, through labor and birth, only to die a few hours later.


  Once she was gone, we got a closer look at her head and realized that she had a clefted palate that connected up with her sinuses. If we had even tried to feed her she would most likely have aspirated and died gasping for air. In retrospect, our decision not to intervene had been the right one.

  In the meantime, we had two vibrant, healthy, active doelings to contend with. I gave my friend, who had spend the last few years living and working in Qatar, the honor of naming the two girls. She decided the first girl should be called Dara, Arabic for the orange of the sun at sunset. The second girl, who was colored like Josie, had a sweet little heart shaped spot on her back. Her name became Galbi, Arabic for heart.


 The jar of colostrum that I had so carefully collected then froze from the CAE negative girls broke while we were trying to thaw and reheat it, inspiring a whole new spate of colorful language from me. Little Dara then refused to nurse from the bottle just like Georgie before her. We ended up tube feeding her for just a day before she figured out that suckling was way nicer that having a tube shoved down your throat several times a day.


  Dara turned out to be very sweet. She was the smallest of the bottle kids we raised, but made up for it by consuming large quantities of milk and making the cutest little angry baby noises when the bottle wasn't flowing fast enough.

  Galbi is a total spirtfire just like her momma. She amazed us by trying to push around Frankie and Georgie within a few hours of being born! She kept trying to get up on a small box we'd placed in with the babies to play on, banging her head into anyone who tried to joint her, then falling over when her still wobbly baby legs would give out under her!

That just left Thea, our big white Saanen girl, as the last to kid.




Sunday, February 22, 2015

An elf is born

  I was still trying to gather myself after attending and almost screwing up Elanore's delivery when I turned to find that Amelia was just on the other side of the wall from the new mother and she was in active labor!


  We always joke that Amelia is our golden child. She's had almost no health problems. She's built just right for a milk goat with a wonderfully attached udder and great teats. Pregnancy was a breeze for her. She was still hopping and running around right to up to her due date, and kidding was no different.

  By the time I got to her, Amelia was already down and pushing. Things seemed to be going smoothly so I just sat back and watched. I was actually able to get video since she needed no help in delivering.


  Amelia gave birth to one huge, blue eye boy. He was born with these long, upturned ears, and I knew immediately that we finally had our keeper buck. You see, we had planned on keeping on little boy from this year's kid to be a companion to our Gimli. We talked about maybe keeping a boy from Gwen, but of course and just to be contrary she had twin doelings. One look at those ears and I knew we had the Legolas to our Gimli!

Teamwork
  So far Lego has been much spookier than I would like in a buck, but I think once he gets to eating grain and hay, we will be able to win him over.


  His mother, for her part, has kept up her reputation as our golden child. She has been a wonderful mother. She is making lots and lots of milk. She is also very easy to milk (although her manners on the milk stand do need a bit of refinement). You get her up on the stand and the milk practically falls out of her udder. A really nice change from some of our other girls who have battle hardened udders that take a bit of muscle to milk. (I'm lookin at you, Elanore!)

  With Elanore and Amelia kidding so close together, and since both of them seemed to be producing more than enough milk, we went ahead and harvested a good amount of colostrum in preparation of our last two girls to kid, Thea and Josie, both of which are CAE positive.

The infant elfling. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Elanore's Bucklings are Born



  After Gwen and Eve, we knew (or were at least pretty darn sure) that Elanore would be the next to kid. That morning she was being unusually vocal. Her udder had filled up, and I couldn't feel the tendons on either side of her tail - a sure sign that kidding is eminent.

   
  Around midday, I went out to check on everyone and found Elanore sizing up the trash pile that was left here by the previous owners as a great place to have her kids. Looking around at all the potentially sharp and dangerous stuff, I decided to intervene and dragged one very large and very, very obstinate pregnant goat across the pasture and locked her into the goat room. I made sure she had fresh hay and water then headed back up to gather some things.


  I took my time in the house, grabbing a quick bite to eat and packing up a bag with a couple books, towels, a blanket for me to sit on, and a charger for my cell phone thinking I would be sitting with a laboring goat for the next few hours.



  Well, by the time I got back out there, Elanore had given birth to one giant all black buckling! Immediately and for no good reason the name Victor came to mind. While I watched her standing there and cleaning up the buckling, I heard her give a small grunt, saw a bit of liquid splash from her backside then to my shock, another kid came flying out of Elanore and landed in the hay at her feet.

   This little boy was much, much smaller than his brother and Elanore didn't seem as interested in getting him cleaned and dried. It was quite cold out so I called Rialey over and had her at least help clear his nose and mouth and start on the dirty work of getting that baby clean. Well, Rialey and Elanore have a very tumultuous relationship. Elanore hadn't even been here a week when she and Ry got into an argument that resulted in the goat needing to get her udder stitched back together. Rialey was a pup at the time and has since learned how to properly discipline the livestock without causing damage, but Elanore has never forgiven her. She took one look at that udder biting wolfdog and lost her mind! She rushed past me faster than I could stop her and headbutted poor Rialey who was totally immersed in caring for her new baby right into the ground!

  I quickly got between the angry mother and confused dog and backed Elanore in a corner, then shooed an unharmed but slightly dazed Rialey out the door.

  I gathered up a still very soggy little buckling and tried to get his mother to help get him clean and dry. I decided then that the little guy was going to need a tough name if he was going to make it in this world, so I choose the name Bruno. Elanore took one sniff of the dog spit on her baby, turned up her nose, and went back to cleaning Victor. Oh no! How could I be so stupid?! I should have known better than to let Rialey anywhere near that baby. If Elanore wouldn't clean that boy, she wouldn't bond with him and accept him as her own. Now we would have another bottle baby to feed. Crap!



  Desperate and cursing my own bad judgement, I grabbed that big black buckling, flipped him upside down and rubbed him all over little Bruno. I then took Victor and hid him behind my back and plopped Bruno right under Elanore's nose. Would you believe it worked!?


  I breathed a sigh of relief as momma started nudging and licking her second son. Whew! It took a while for this little guy to get on his feet and even longer for him to start nursing, but he eventually got the hang of being a goat. The little family unit of three have been inseparable every since.


  I thought my excitement for the day was over, but as I was gathering my things and getting ready to head back up to the house, I heard the sounds of another goat in labor somewhere nearby. Sounds with which I was getting to be very familiar....