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.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Farm Call

Today we had the vet out for a farm call. He did a quick inspection of the sheep and goats and wrote us a health certificate so that the animals would be legal to cross state lines. All the animals got ID tags with our Scrapies ID so at least that much is ready to go!


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Santa

Today, mom and I carved out a small chunk of our crazy schedule to go get Elliot's first Santa picture. Because I'm a bit of a crazy person, I opted to sit in the picture with him instead of letting Santa with his touching every kid with every god knows what kind of disease gloves hold my baby. Look, I'm all for germs and early exposure and working that immune system, but not with my 4 month old and not right now. We don't even have a good pediatrician picked out in Greensboro yet.

Anywho, here's our Santa pic. We tried to get a smile out of the little guy, but did not succeed. His smiles are frequent and easy but fleeting so by the time the photographer got back to her camera, El was back to his default face. Oh well, he's still his adorable self. 

The day was a bit of a kerfuffle. Everything that could...I don't want to say go wrong exactly, but everything we tried to do ended up being more complicated than usual. El managed to fountain my mother with pee THREE times during one diaper change, the last of which called for a costume change on his part. While we were out, he pooped twice. We arrived to the Santa place while they were out to lunch, and mom didn't inform me until halfway through the day that she had an engagement that evening. So by the time we got half of our to do list done, we had to run home. I nursed a very hungry Elliot then ran out and did chores in about 10 minutes flat. Afterward while mom and her husband did their thing, Elliot, Rialey and I finished our errands for the day.  

My poor baby. By the time we were finally heading home for the last time, he had had it and started crying in the car. I pulled over twice to try and soothe him to no avail. I even tried driving (carefully down back roads) while dangling my cell above his head playing an app that has shiny balls rattling around. Nothing helped, but I did get pretty good at fishing out a dropped pacifier and shoving it back into his mouth blind and backwards though.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Respite


My absolute favorite part of these crazy days is getting to sit down every couple hours with my sweet boy to nurse. When I was pregnant, all my baby dreams involved nursing him, and I'm so blessed that our nursing relationship is working so well for the both of us. Elliot has an excellent appetite, and I am so far keeping up with his needs. At night he nurses himself to sleep and during the day, it's the one surefire way to calm him. For me, it's a time to stop, breathe, gather my thoughts, and just enjoy this fleeting time with my little one.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Leeloo banana


I have this silly habit of sticking produce stickers on the dogs' foreheads and then declaring them a Mexican tomato or a California kiwi for the day. Well, this morning my mother decided this big old "organic" sticker should not go to waste so she turned Leeloo into an organic banana. Leeloo was not amused.


In other news, we are working towards getting all the sheep and goats legal to cross state lines for the big move. We got an official scrapies ID number and ordered ear tags for everyone. The vet is coming out later this week to fill out the necessary paperwork. Many of the goats are LaManchas who don't even have ears to tag so we'll be putting the tags on their newly cleaned collars instead.

I've also included this bonus pic of the Elliot monster just because. 



Sunday, December 18, 2016

It's beginning to look a little like Christmas

Today we took a little break from packing and watching the Saints beat the Cardinals to trim our tiny tree. I've never been one to decorate much for the holidays, but we decided to put in a bit of effort since this is Elliot's first and our last Christmas here on the farm.

Friday, December 16, 2016

My life in boxes

I hate packing. I hate packing for trips, and I especially hate packing to move.

I have a love-hate relationship with my stuff. There is too much of it, and I hate getting rid of it. I think a lot of people feel this way, but it's really brought to the forefront when you have to literally lay hands on everything single thing you own and somehow make it fit into a 15 foot truck.

On top of having to pack up everything, I am also trying to hold down a farm and raise an infant with just my mother for help (and a big help she is, don't get me wrong). This is a crazy time in my life. Thank goodness I don't have to hold down a real job at the same time. As it is, I feel like I am chipping away at a granite mountain with a butter knife here.

The baby needs almost constant care. I hate that I have to feel guilty spending any extra time interacting with my baby boy beyond feeding and diaper changes. If I had my druthers, I'd spend every second of the day gazing into his beautiful little face and striving to make him give me his rare and precious giggles. Stealing away even a few hours to put things in boxes some days feels like an complete impossibility.

If all goes according to plan, in 10 days it will all be over. We'll be stuffing all this stuff into moving truck number 3 and saying goodbye to our farm here in Louisiana. When we get there, I'm not doing a damn thing beyond the essentials for at least a week!



Thursday, December 15, 2016

Elliot is 4 months old!

Elliot turns 4 months today. The little guy continues to grow like a weed and delight us with something new every day.
He now rolls over onto his belly at every opportunity and can hold his head and chest up to look around. He still hasn't figured out how to roll back, but I think it's mostly lack of interest. This little dude wants to move!
His manual dexterity continues to improve. He can hold things, flail them around, and bring them to his mouth to chew. If his pacifier falls out, he can often replace it.Yesterday he started sucking his thumb really for the first time, an action we are trying to discourage with limited success.
His head control is great. We can now carry him around one handed which makes life around here a lot easier. He is also working on sitting up and loves to sit upright in our laps and look around at the world.
He's a happy baby most of the time. He loves to be held and cuddled. The gas gets better every day as long as I am careful with my diet. Right now he loves to hear his own voice and will squeal and screech with delight with the occasional actual giggle thrown in. He knows his name and will turn to look and almost always smile when called.
He's over 16lbs now and still wanting to nurse every couple hours. At night he will sleep for 4-5 hours at time before rolling over, reaching out, and smacking me awake to nurse.
Being his momma is still my favorite thing in the world. He's by far the coolest thing I have ever made, and he gets cooler every day!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My Son the Alligator

It's 5 in the morning and my life is in chaos. Anthony and I had our first son, Elliot, almost four months ago. We are also smack in the of a giant move from South Louisiana to North Carolina. For some reason this seems like a perfect time to take on a new project.

I did a 365 photo project years ago. It lasted many years, and it has been wonderful to look back and see my life documented. With the new baby and the new farm, I am looking for a way to keep a record of these crazy, fast changing times. 

The parameters of this project are simple: a picture a day. At least one picture per day. It may be one quick cell phone shot or a series from a photo shoot with the "good camera." Maybe an occasional video. I may share my thoughts on the day, I may not. 

For my first pic, I thought I'd share what early motherhood looked like laced with a bit of TMI. I use this bouncy chair to park Elliot while I do things in the bathroom. Well having to interrupt an early morning feeding for him with an urgent toilet trip for me meant rousing a sleepy baby to bring him with. Of course now he is wide awake. 

Elliot thought this would be a great time to practice being an alligator and roll, roll, roll. 


I feel the need to point out that the little guy is not actually falling out of his chair. Just hanging awkwardly and flailing. Now I know why almost all baby seats come with seatbelts. Cue the tantrum!


Monday, June 20, 2016

The quail are back!

A few years ago we had a pen of coturnix quail. We eventually decided to sell our little flock. We couldn't find a market for the eggs and couldn't seem to raise enough to make the meat worth it. Since then, both Big Onion and I have talked about missing those little buggers and their funny little noises and cute little eggs. Plus we cannot seem to keep up the with demand for pet food or eggs these days. We decided maybe it was time to give the little birds another go.

I had been on the lookout for anyone nearby selling some of the birds so when an ad popped up on one of the local poultry sale pages on facebook selling Texas A&M jumbo quail I decided it was time. The jumbo quail are said to lay just as many eggs as the regular coturnix, but these guys were specifically bred for meat so they grow to be much bigger and meatier than their natural cousins. They were just over an hour away so I jumped on the opportunity! The gentleman was selling what was left of his breeding flock of 22 birds, and he would throw in all their eggs from the last week as lagniappe! I was sold!

We loaded up the car with a couple medium sized dog crates one Saturday afternoon and made the drive in the sprinkling rain to pick up our newest additions. When we arrived, all 22 birds were being kept in a relatively small raised cage in the man's backyard. This is a very common way to raise quail, so I do not fault the owner of the birds, but I was happy to take the little guys home knowing much nicer digs awaited their arrival.


Once we got home, we unloaded the little birds into their new home. It is the same pen we kept in the quail in before, an indoor/outdoor on the ground enclosure that is probably 6' by 12'. Practically the Taj Mahal by quail standards!



With their feet on the ground probably for the first time in their lives, the quail started immediately exploring their new world. They were scratching and pecking and taking dirt baths right away!


 It's always amazing to see those instincts come out in animals who have probably known nothing but metal wire under their feet. It wasn't long before we started hearing their silly little quail calls and finding the tiny mottled brown eggs squirreled away all around the pen. It's a bit like Easter every day in there trying to find all the eggs since they are so well camouflaged, and the quail love nothing more than to bury their eggs under the hay and dirt.


Our plan is to primarily raise the birds for meat. All of their eggs are going into the incubator so that we can always have a good supply growing out. They are called jumbo quail for a reason, and they certainly live up their name. They are built like softballs with big, round chests and very docile temperaments commonly seen in meat birds. I know our pet food customers' kitties will be thrilled with the new product once we get that first batch of eggs hatched and grown out. Until then we are happy to have the funny little beasts back on the farm.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Listen to the farm dog

This morning Rialey gave me another lesson in trusting the wisdom of my farm dog. I'd run out to the poultry pens to gather some baby turkeys for sale and heading back I noticed Ry wasn't with me. She was running up and down the pasture fence trying to get my attention.


Turns out that stupid turkey hen who jumps the fence every day to lay her egg had decided to go broody overnight on her nest on the other side of the fence. Judging by the pile of feathers, looks like something tried to take a chomp out of her. Luckily our hen was fine, if short a bit of fluff, but kudos to Ry for alerting me very clearly to the sight of a predator attack. Once I'd been made aware, she happily followed me and the turkey poults back to the house.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bucket o'ducklings


Our ducks are getting old. We keep ducks here on the farm to sell their eggs. Unfortunately, our lady ducks are getting up there in the years and going though what I can only assume is the equivalent of ducky menopause. Despite the fact that we have many lady ducks out there and spring is the perfect time for a lady duck to do her ducky thing, we are only getting 1-2 eggs per day.

With that in mind, we set a couple dozen duck eggs in the incubator and waited the 28 days it takes to cook up baby ducklings. We didn't have the greatest hatch rate (again, old lady ducks), but we did get enough ducklings that we were able to sell a few and keep the bucket full you see above.

Originally, we were keeping them in the brooder with the baby turkey poults that hatched at the same time, but ducklings and other birds just don't mix well at that age. They have very different protein requirements, and baby ducks are just disgusting. They get food and water and poop just everywhere. Hence the duckling bucket. These little ladies moved out and are now living and doing their best to destroy one of the poultry pens until they get old enough to move in with the flock and start laying us some eggs!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ace of Spades


 Would you just look at this little dude! Last weekend we picked up a new boer buck. He's about 5 months old and gorgeous. His registered name is Ace of Spades, but I just didn't like the name Ace. We've been told he looks like marble or a stormy sky, but the one that made me laugh was that he looks like he is made of blue cheese. That inspired me to call him Roquefort or "Rogue" for short.


The name Rogue seems to fit him well. Every goat that comes to the farm has to spend at least a week or two in quarantine so that we can make sure they are healthy and fully dewormed before introducing them to the rest of the herd. Right now he also has some minor respiratory issues that we need to get resolved as well. This little guy is not at all happy about living alone and will perform acrobatic leaps up into the air and rebound off the sides of his pen when left alone. It's really kind of impressive. He also throws fits while we are gone and will flip his platform and destroy his hay buckets. I have a feeling that once he moves in with the Gimli and Legolas, our other bucks, they will not tolerate this kind of behavior plus maybe he'll probably settle down once he has company.

Other than the hysterics of being left alone, he is a really sweet boy with a wonderful temperament. We had him out with us doing yard work earlier this week, and he just loved being near us and getting lots of scratches. He also has a healthy respect for Rialey who spent the day keeping an eye on him and moving him away from trouble.

Our plan is to breed him with Edie next go round to produce what should be some really flashy registered Boers for sale. We'll also probably breed him to some of our bigger dairy girls with the plan to raise the babies for meat.

Overall we are really excited to have this pretty little boy here and cannot wait to introduce him to the rest of the herd!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Herding Training

Lately we have needed to move the flock of sheep more than in the past. We are trying to keep them off our first pasture as much as possible so that it doesn't get over grazed. We are also gathering them every week for health checks. Since the weather has started to warm, we have also been moving them into the backyard a few days a week so that they can act as living lawn mowers and enjoy the benefits of our very varied grass back there.


Rialey has always shown a very natural ability to move the flock. The problem is often that where she would like to move them and where we would like her to move them are totally different places. The last couple of weeks, I have started to make an effort to really dial in her herding training so that we can better communicate out there.

The other thing the girl needs to learn is to just slow down! I thought surely when she reached 2 years old she would mature out of the puppy brain phase and start acting like an adult. Nope. Half the time when she's working she is a jumbo bag of mixed nuts, running and barking and trying to do everything we ask before we ask it and at TOP SPEED! Whhheeee!!!


The fault here lies with my training, not with my over zealous, very driven working dog. I haven't taken the time to show her what to do and reward when she is doing things at a moderate pace. Instead we often find ourselves waiting until she has done something in a totally wild fashion and then yelling. This does no one any good.

Recently, I worked out a deal with a local trainer to trade a couple of our turkeys for a herding lesson. She was able to give me some great tips on reading Rialey's body language and getting the kind of performance I want without all the yelling and pushing.


Today, I decided to put some of her suggestions into practice so we went out to collect the sheep in the back pasture. It took a few tries, but eventually we moved the whole flock into the goat yard where armed with a clicker and some delicious treats (smokey bacon cheddar!), I rewarded Rialey for being calm, moving slowly, and getting around and behind her sheep. Thankfully, the sheep have finally grown out of the habit of trying to commit suicide by throwing themselves at the fence any time a dog moves anywhere near them! We moved the flock from one pen to the other and back again a few times then we decided to move the group into the backyard to graze for the day.


Our first attempt at moving from one yard to the other did not go so well. Unsure what I wanted, Rialey flanked around and ended up moving the sheep in the opposite direction and by a roundabout route then ended up back where we'd started. This time I got in front of the flock and just told Rialey to wait as I walked confidently in front of the group, out the gate, and across the pasture.

There was this beautiful moment when I looked over my shoulder and there spread out behind me trotting calmly was the entire flock of sheep. Bringing up the rear at a respectable distance was Rialey. She was WALKING behind the sheep. Keeping her shepherd's eye on all the young lambs to make sure they stayed with the group and calmly encouraging the whole flock to take my lead. Once the sheep saw the open backyard gate and the lush greens that awaited them, they all rushed through and Rialey to her credit slowed to a stop and waited for every last ewe and lamb to find their way through the small gate.

Gate shut, I turned around and had a huge party with my good girl, complete with a whole handful of smokey bacon cheddar!



Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Francesca's Valentines


We had been watching Francesca get bigger in the belly and the bag for the last few weeks. On Valentine's day, Big Onion and I decided to get away from the farm for a bit to see a romantic movie so we made plans to see a Sunday matinee of Deadpool. That morning we'd noticed a bit of discharge on Francesca's vulva, but the girl was acting normal and went out to graze with the rest of the herd so we felt confident that we could safely leave her for a few hours.

We had a great time at the movie and when we got home Big Onion decided to go out and make a quick check on Franny. Moments later I got a text saying, "Frannie babies!" I grabbed an armful of towels and rushed out to find Big Onion squatting in a dusty corner behind the four wheeler. Francesca was standing and licking away at a little white and tan buckling who was already struggling to his feet. Meanwhile, Big Onion was trying to clean off an obviously freshly born little black and white pile of goo and fur. It was the tiniest thing, and as I handed him a towel I realized that it was a little doeling. A little while later when we weighed her, she was only 2.3lbs. Very tiny for a baby goat. Since they were born on Valentine's day, we chose to name the little boy Cupid and the girl Val. 

We decided to move mother and the babies to a cleaner, safer place, so we bundled little Val in a towel, tucked Cupid into our arms, and dragged Francesca around the bike, through the gate, and into the cozy, well bedded goat room. Once there, we watched as Cupid got to his feet and started nursing very quickly. Meanwhile there was something obviously wrong with Val. She was so tiny and seemed to have no drive at all to get up or try to nurse. We got her clean and dry, but every time we would stop stimulating her, she would just lay her head down and seem to give up. Eventually we tried propping her on her feet, but she would just slump back down into the hay. We even tried holding her semi-limp form to her mother's teat to try and encourage her to nurse with no luck. It seemed the little one just wasn't interested in living. 

Sitting there in the hay, we started to think that this little one just wasn't going to make it. Then I remembered reading an article recently about newborn horses with a similar problem. They were born seemingly without the will or drive to live. They would often act nonresponsive and would not nurse. The theory talked about in the article was that these "dummy foals" were born very quickly or by c-section and did not spend enough time in the birth canal. Apparently the act of being squeezed through the birth canal is what signals their newborn brains to switch from the sort of sleep mode of the womb to waking and struggling to rise and nurse. In foals, they take a rope and tie it tightly around the chest to simulate the squeezing of the birth canal, and the babies act as if a switch has been thrown and start acting like normal foals. 

Looking at little Val laying there in the hay, it was obvious she'd been born second, after her brother who was 3 times her size. One could imagine that after his entrance the little girl virtually shot out of her mother. Perhaps she was having that same problem as the dummy foals. I figured it was worth a shot, so I gathered the tiny thing in my arms and held her very tightly to my chest for several seconds, then I let her go and drop to the soft hay about a foot below thinking that maybe the gentle impact might also help her get going. 

Don't you know, that little girl started to struggle to her feet almost immediately. It took her a while, and we had to help her balance a bit, but eventually she was taking her first wobbly steps toward her mother and with a little help, she was able to latch on and nurse her first sips of that all important colostrum!


Our next problem was that during all this time, Francesca had been cleaning and talking to and bonding with little Cupid. She really hadn't interacted with the little girl much at all so while Big Onion left to put the birds away, I started trying to convince the first time mother that she had two kids to care for, not just the one.


We had run into this same problem with Elanore and her twins so I had some experience with this issue. I actually grabbed Cupid and hid him behind my back so that Francesca who was in full blown new mother must lick everything in sight mode could redirect her attentions to the littler of her brood. She kept trying to lick me...probably the only time in her salty little life that that goat has ever shown me any real affection, but I kept redirection her attention to little Val. I even rubbed the two babies together so that they would share the same scent and further convince Franny that the tiny black doeling was hers. 

My strategy worked and after a while Francesca started talking to the little girl, and she calling back. It was then I knew everyone was going to be ok. I left mother with her new babies to bond and rest.


We checked on tiny little Val very frequently over the next few days checking her weight twice a day to make sure she was gaining. She started off slow, but very quickly developed the spunk that her family is so well known for here on the farm. Her tiny little legs had a heck of a time keeping up with her mother and brother, but Cupid bonded very closely with his little sister and would come running any time she called. Now the two are inseparable and much more bonded to each other than even to their crazy mother who took quite a while to realize that she couldn't just run off and leave her kids behind any time she felt like going somewhere. 

Now I'm happy to report that Val (who changed her name to Lilly) is doing great! She keeps with with mother and brother and even tries to stand up to the much bigger kids on occasion. Since she's so tiny, she gets lots of attention and seems to enjoy or at least tolerate our cuddles and kisses with good spirits. Hopefully when she gets old enough, we can find just the right home for what I'm sure will turn out to be a very sweet and adorable little doe.



Monday, March 28, 2016

Gwen

It started very small. I saw her stumble a couple of times. I thought maybe the arthritis that often afflicts goats with CAE was flaring up again. Over the next couple of days it became clear that something was wrong with our little girl. She was still eating and drinking, but she just wasn't right. I took her to our local goat vet who took one look at her and declared her "one sick goat." She was standing next to my car with looking hunched up with her head turned to one side. My normally bright, active girl whose head would pop up and eyes would sparkle at the mention of her name seemed dull and almost lifeless.


The problem was, aside from obviously feeling pretty terrible, Gwen had no other symptoms. No vomiting or diarrhea. Her appetite was good, and she still seemed to be getting around ok. The vet gave her a shot of B vitamins, prescribed an antibiotic, and sent us on our way with a request to report if anything else developed...


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Announcement!

As many of you may already know, I am pregnant. Before we even started trying to conceive a kid, I had been contemplating some way to use the farm and our animals to make a clever and cute pregnancy announcement. Eventually I decided that using the baby goats was the way to go, so we set out so put together just the right picture to announce to the world that we had a little human on the way. This is the final product that we posted to Facebook...


As you can imagine, this was not the easiest picture in the world to make. It took two different photo sessions and so much baby goat chasing and dog model coaxing, I thought we'd have to photoshop the thing to make it happen.


I thought surely the easy part would be to put Rialey in a sit stay holding the ultrasound picture while we wrangled the baby goats into staying around her. Unfortunately, she did not like the feel of bailing twine in her mouth. Even wrapping it in a bit of plastic didn't help. We got more than one shot of our backsides trying to encourage her to keep the thing in place. We ended up hanging the picture around her neck for a while before finally wrapping the twine in some tape that was acceptable to her delicate tongue. 


There was also the problem of keeping those four crazy, rambunctious kids in frame. Big Onion ran around like a fool, tossing babies, waving sticks, and making crazy sounds while I tried to catch a shot between laughing my butt off at him!


Even when they were in frame, they were too interested in banging into each other to hold still enough for us to get a picture. Here Rutabaga headbutts poor Cupid into his tiny sister, Lilly. What a mess!

And then there was the humping.

So.

Much. 

Humping.

On the second day, we had much better lighting and were smart enough to set up fencing around Rialey and the goats which worked a lot better...

If only Big Onion would stay out of the shot!

Eventually we got a couple of decent shots, but boy was it some hard work!

That evening even Rialey was beat!