Welcome to HighTail Farms, LLC! We're a small farm located in Greensboro, North Carolina. We are dedicated to providing people with ethically raised and humanely processed pastured poultry and sheep, fresh eggs, and raw meat for pet food. We are currently not producing any products for sale.

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.

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.