Our Llamas!! Officially a Farm!!

 

Mama and baby Llama at Aunty Bears Farm

Mama and baby Llama at Aunty Bears Farm

I am delighted to say that I think I am officially a farm!!  To date we have:

5 Dogs, 2 Cats and 13 kittens

Mama and Puppy At Aunty Bears Farm

Mama and Puppy At Aunty Bears Farm

 

2 Cows

62 Chickens

Catching Chicks At Aunty Bears Farm

Catching Chicks At Aunty Bears Farm

3 (for now) Rabbits

6 Sheep

Feeding Lambs At Aunty Bears Farm

Feeding Lambs At Aunty Bears Farm

2 Goats

and as of this week. . .

7 Llamas!!!

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

 

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

I got Llamas because they are edible (so they say-I haven’t tried them yet), cheap to purchase (50 dollars each), and you can graze 4 on the same place you would graze 1 cow (but they give 1/6 the meat).  My son wants to teach them to pull him on a sled and to be pack animals so he can get them to carry his pack when hiking 🙂

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

I am loving life.

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

Most of my fences are up.  My dogs are well behaved most of the time.

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

My cows get along with my Llamas.

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

My bummer lambs are thriving.  Our goats milk taste yummy so what do I have to complain about?

Sunday Walk at Aunty Bears Farm

Sunday Walk at Aunty Bears Farm

Who cares that my siding isn’t on yet, that I can expect tonnes (literally) of mud to be tracked into my house for the next month, that only 1/3 of my trees survived the winter, that my toilet overflows every day and we can’t seem to fix it ect. . .  For now, for this moment, I am going to relish the little things and magic of being a farmer.

Lady Bugs at Aunty Bears Farm

Lady Bugs at Aunty Bears Farm

I just love working outside and visiting my animals.  The Lord has sure blessed this little piece of heaven!.

 

Most Economical Meat To Raise

Wading the Irrigation Ditch at Aunty Bears Farm

Wading the Irrigation Ditch at Aunty Bears Farm

I live on 5 acres, but c0-own another 80 acres with my sisters and sister-friends.  In the past year I have fenced in about 7 acres for my personal use.  I have a fence backyard (about 2 acres), 2 two acres of fenced pasture and a two acre fenced dog run in the front of my house.  I also have a fenced 2 acre pond area (with little kids I had to make sure the pond was fenced).

Red Fox and Black Labs at The Farm

Red Fox and Black Labs at The Farm

With all these fenced area’s complete, I finally have the luxury to buy animals!!!  I am so excited.  It is a much nicer feeling having an area fenced before buying animals vs buying the animals first and frantically trying to fence them in (like we did with our dogs and cows).   Since finances are tight, I am trying to figure out the most economical meat source to raise.

Kissing the Lamb

Kissing the Lamb

My math formula is “cost of purchase + Cost of butcher + cost of packaging / average lbs of meat”. . .  I haven’t taken into consideration the taste of the meat.  Rabbits seem to win because I got the rabbits free and don’t have to pay much for feed.  I got my chicks free as well, but the feed is about 5 dollars a week for 6 months for 30 chicks. . . .

Baby Llama At Aunty Bears Farm

Baby Llama At Aunty Bears Farm

Llama– 30 (purchase) + 75 (butcher) + 78 (processing 100 lbs) / 100 (amount of meat) = 1.30 /lb

Mini Cow– 600 + 75 + 156 \ 300lbs = 2.70/lb
big cow– 1400 + 75 + 312 / 600lbs = 2.98 /lb
sheep–  50 + 50 + 32 / 60 = 2.68 /lb
deer– 0 + 75 + 78 / 150 =1.02 lb
rabbits–20+0= basically free
chickens– 120 (feed 30 chicks 6 months) / 78 lbs (2.6lb meat per 4 lb bird) = 1.53

 

Baby  At Aunty Bears Farm

Baby At Aunty Bears Farm

It seems that raising a few milk goats vs a milk cow would work better for us as well considering the cost of purchase (which is high for both of them) and gestation times.  Unless of course our baby yearling heifers are fertile, and then I would have plenty of milk and the equation would look like this.

300 (purchase and milk replacer cost) +75+312/600=1.14 which is cheaper than my llama.

Mama Llama At Aunty Bears Farm

Mama Llama At Aunty Bears Farm

 

Bummer Lambs A Delight!! The Good Shepherd!!!

I was so nervous to get my first batch of bummer lambs.

Baby Lambs

Baby Lambs

 

I only did it because my eleven year old kept begging me, and because the lambs were cheap (30 dollars each).  I researched, and researched the day before they came and finally resorted to expressing my worries on facebook.  Immediately I got messages of reassurance.  A whole bunch of my experienced friends shared their own stories of raising bummer lambs as kids or adults (yah, I have cool friends 🙂  ).

Baby Lambs At Aunty Bears Farm

Baby Lambs At Aunty Bears Farm

I felt much better, especially when they assured me that I DID NOT have to feed them every two hours and during the night.IMG_8012

The lambs came in a small box.  They were so tiny and noisy.  A few were so new that they still were wobbly on their feet.  For the first three nights I put them in my laundry room bathroom.

Baby Lambs At Aunty Bears Farm

Baby Lambs At Aunty Bears Farm

Yucky I know, but I just didn’t want them to be cold and I wanted to be close to them in case they needed me.  I also planned on feeding them ever few hours just like one of the websites said.  Luckily another friend told me after the first night that it was not necessary.

Baby Lambs At Aunty Bears Farm

Baby Lambs At Aunty Bears Farm

I was so happy because I was so tired waking up to feed the little ones.  I did wake up the first two nights (because I felt so sorry for those sweet things) but I didn’t tell my real farmer friends 🙂 –They are so much better than google!!

Baby Lambs At Aunty Bears Farm

Baby Lambs At Aunty Bears Farm

I was worried that the lambs would have to be forced to eat but once again, I worried for nothing.  After the first night, the little lambs eat eagerly and with relish!!

Baby Lambs At Aunty Bears Farm

Baby Lambs At Aunty Bears Farm

They are so pretty.  All different kinds of fur and all different colors.  I absolutely love them.

Baby Lambs At Aunty Bears Farm

Baby Lambs At Aunty Bears Farm

They bring me so much joy watching them, and feeding them.  I now feed them every five hours or so.  They love it and so do I.  I feel so blessed to have them.

The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd

We are just like bummer lambs.  We have left the home we know (heaven) to wander in a strange land alone.  We are small and fragile, but the Lord keeps us close.  He is the good Shepherd.  He loves us and he cares.  Each one of us are different but special.  Our differences are unique and He knows us personally.  I am grateful that I have felt so safe in His loving flock.

 

 

Our Baby Lambs

IMG_8016In the heat of the afternoon today my husband is bringing home 6 baby lambs.  They are orphans, called bummer lambs, and are very fragile.  A few are a week old, but a few are just days old and very weak.  I am nervous.  Babies are so fragile, and babies away from their mama’s are more so.  I remember our baby goats being born.  It was on a cold windy sunday.  Bree, the mama gave birth to twins.  A husky boy and a fragile, wispy girl.  We had just driven home from church, hearts still pounding.

Bree and Duffy

As we left a fabulous meeting with Elder Holland, the wind was blowing wildly as we dashed to our car.  Breathless and cold, we were slowly leaving the parking lot when out of the corner of my eye I saw an elderly fall flat on her face.  It happened so fast and was at the other end of the road between two cars that I wasn’t sure that I saw things right.  Obediently my husband didn’t question me and zipped over to where I directed him.  Sure enough, there on the road was an older lady face first.  The wind must have pushed her over as she was trying to cross the street.  Luckily we saw her and we were able to get help to her fast.

Baby Goat

As we came up to our house in our suburban, I noticed Bree’s amazing accomplishment and we all squeeled for joy.  Then I saw the little doe.  It was so tiny and wasn’t moving.  The march winds were so cold.  Jacketless, I ran to her side and gathered her up in my arms and brought her and her shivering brother inside.  Carefully we dried her, laid her on our heated bathroom tiles and tried to get her to drink some milk Zik had just milked out.  That tiny little thing was feisty and refused to drink a thing from us.  Finally after multiple tries we got some milk in her.  For hours we kept her warm, fed her and watched her.  Then it occurred to me that unless I did something fast, I would be getting up all night feeding that girl.

Little Miss Loves Her Babies

Little Miss Loves Her Babies

It didn’t take long to decide to bring mama in the house.  While I fixed the mudroom, the kids herded mama in.  The mama happily fed the boy, but the little girl was too weak to compete with her brother.  For days we would have to pull the boy away to let the doe eat.  After a week of our house smelling like a barn-oh, I mean, after a week of it being a barn (luckily it was so cold outside that there were no flies attracted to our ‘barn’) we moved the family back outside.  I was so happy to have weathered my first birth on The Land (besides puppy births).

Milking Bree For Her New Babies

Milking Bree For Her New Babies

I am hoping that my experience with the goat will help me with these lambs.  I don’t really think I know what I am getting myself  into.  I am supposed to feed these babies EVERY 2 HOURS!!!!  Yikes, let’s hope it all will work out.  I am going to start them out in the shed but have a feeling that I may move them inside fast.

 

To Love Is To Loss

two cows feedings“Mommy” a choked voice calls on the phone ” the baby calf-she is dead”.  I hear the word and my heart sinks “Are you sure?” I ask hoping that somehow he is wrong, but as I hear my oldest son sobbing on the phone, I know the answer.  I feel a sense of grief sweep over me.  Bottle Feeding CalfCould I have prevented this death?  I don’t think I could have.  I did the best I could, but something inside me feels guilty.  If only I had not have been so sick this week. If only it had not rained so much.  If only I had of tried just a little harder. . .  Those ‘if only swirl in my brain’ as I try to comfort my son “It’s okay, we knew she was sick. I will come home  and get Daddy to take care of her”.  I am instantly grateful to have a man at my side to strengthen me.  I know that my husband, unfamiliar with animals and death, does not want to have to figure out what to do with a dead calf, but he sees my tears and immediately tries to figure out what to do. At home I gather my littlest girl on my lap as she cries over and over, “Mommy why did the baby cow die?” while my other kids solemnly look on.  I had only had that calf for a month, but yet my heart is torn.  Last night, as I dried my daughters tears and my own, I was devastated and honestly didn’t know how I could continue to live my dream of being self-sufficient.  I know that if you have livestock, you always need to be prepared for deadstock, but seriously how do you prepare for the death of a loved one-even an animal?  “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die.” (D&C 42:45.)chickens

This morning I feel better. I look at my two healthy calves, three dogs, hernia ridden goat and twenty-eight chickens with hope.  I know, that as much as I want to numb myself to loss and pain, to do so would be deadly, for you cannot selectively numb emotion.  You can’t say, here’s the bad stuff.  Here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment.  I don’t want to feel these. . . . .You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions.  You cannot selectively numb.  So when you we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we miserable. . .” I know I have to continue on with this.  I know there honestly were some things I could have done better for my calf, but I have to let go. I have to realize that I will make mistakes, many mistakes, but as long as I work hard to be grateful the journey will be worth it. “The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life“.  (Russell M. Nelson)

Baby Calves and Bottle Feeding

two cows color My baby calves are happily doing great.  We had a few scary days when the littlest of our ‘famine babies’ wouldn’t stand up.  ana feeding cow colorI mixed her a bottle of electrolytes, and had to practically carry her back to her corral.  Seeing our prayers and research and work was having no effect we called our ranching neighbor (the same one who gave us a cow anatomy lesson on the first day).  He checked out her scours, her runny nose and cough and kindly gave her a shot of something.  The next day she was up.  Yah!!  We named her Star.  She is sweet and docile (or young and sick). The medium calf is Daisy.  She got a shot too.  The biggest girl was doing fine, we named her Oreo at first but changed it to Cookie.

Cookie is very scared of us and only comes near when we have grain or milk.  I make sure I pet her lots while she eats.  Cookie drinks from the bucket which makes feeding time easier but it makes me wonder if I should get her to suck a bottle just so I can get her closer to me.e feeding cow color  She is gaining well on her milk and feed.  Cookie looks like she is about 8 weeks old at least but her sucking reflex is definitely strong since she tries sucking on Stars ear all the time.  Yesterday I saw it bleeding.  I don’t want to separate the calves so I really hope it stops.

color baby cow drinkingDaisy is learning to come as soon as she sees the bottle.  She acts ravenous all the time, but has actually started loosing her ‘skin and bones’ look.  I have upped all their milk rations and even added an egg to one of the bottles.  It is going to cost me more, and I really wonder how healthy milk replacer is, but they are so hungry all the time I couldn’t resist. color k cow I feed them three times a day, let them eat grain (Daisy does pretty good) and graze all day on pasture and hay.  She is still young, I am guessing only 6 weeks old, but a little pushy-I had to tap her on her nose yesterday for bumping me.  I don’t know it does/or did any good but I had to try.  The las thing I want is a 1200 lb cow coming and bumping me for more food.

Star is so cute.  We all love her.  She comes when she sees us.  She lets us brush and comb her.  She is also the sickest. e color feeding cow For some reason Star hasn’t gained any weight.  Her tail is still caked in poop and I am not sure if she still has scours or if it just hasn’t washed away.  She always has slime in her nose and coughs.  She is eating well though, and walking around so I am hopeful she will live.  I have scoured (as in searched diligently) the internet for information about how to keep her alive.  I am trying to carefully try what I learn (since I don’t want to do more harm with my good intentions).  I want these calves to be as happy and healthy as they can no matter what happens to them (I don’t think I will keep them because I really want Miniature cattle).

I struggle with knowing what to do.  I wish I had a nurse cow to feed them real milk, instead of cow formula.  Having nursed my own seven little ones, I can’t help but feel maternal towards these sweet little creatures.  It is incredible to me because I never realized how real animals were until I started working with them.  Before, they were things that improved the view and a nice idea.  Now that I have some of my own, I can not express how much I love them.  They remind me of my own helpless little ones and I want to make life as good for them as I can, and it is a pleasure to do so.  Daisy eatingI love feeding and tending them (way better than cleaning my house) that I actually offered to take two of my bishops orphaned calves and bottle feed them for him.  color cowsMy kids as well, they love petting, feeding and leading them around.  I see a depth of joy in our family that we never had before and it is beautiful to behold.  I don’t know when the novelty will wear off (about the time the weather gets cold) but until it does I want to enjoy every minute of it!

My Farm: Auction Newbie Comes Home With 3 Calves And A Dying Goat

fences 1Our first time buying livestock at an auction!!  What a fun(ny) adventure that was!!

Since our fences were almost up, and some sweet neighbor gave me a flock of newly hatched chicks, my sister, brother and I decided to venture to the local animal auction to see if we could pick up a few more birds.  My brother lives in town (and they don’t allow chickens 😦 ) so I told him that I would love to house a few birds for him.  My sister lives beside me, so we like to do as much together as possible to share the stress, research, and work. chickens Unfortunately there were not too many chickens at the auction and so we naively went to check out what livestock they had there.  While touring the maze of stinky barn stalls my brother asked me if I would go in on a cow with him.  I had seen a few babies go for about 50 dollars so I agreed on the condition he figured out how to get it to my yard, helped me finish the fences and build a shelter for it.  If he did that, I agreed to pay for half the animal (and feed) and feed the cow.  I also informed him that I only had 50 dollars to spend total that day and reminded him that each calf we get will probably need about 150 dollars worth of milk replacer if they are still bottle fed!!

With new purpose we sat down in the front row.  This was the third auction I had watched and felt confident that I would not get caught up in the moment. Ha!!!  Little did I know I was about to embark on the ride of a life time.  By this time, my sister-in-law and my little nephews had arrived and we made a bit of a stir trying to squeeze them into the front row of an already full room.

One by one the animals came in.  Scared, dirty and confused, they got hustled through one door-pushed around a bit and sent out the next door to meet their new fate.  They started with goats.  This obviously was not the goat crowd because the goats were going cheap.  100, 100, and 50,50, and 20, 20,20 SOLD!!!  My brother got so excited.  On and on the goats shuffled through the gates and finally one last goat came in.  She was all alone, very scared, skinny and pregnant.  First she walked forward, the auctioneer kept lowering the price and nobody had started bidding yet.  Then the goat turned about and the whole audience gasped. DUSTIN GOAT There before my eyes was the biggest bulge I had ever seen.  It was NOT natural and couldn’t believe anyone would even attempt to sell this goat.  Who in their right mind would buys such a sickly, abused problem goat?  SOLD!!!  The auctioneer announced pointing to my brother.  Grinning proudly he bragged “I got her for a dollar!”  His wife squeeled in disbelief when she realized it was her husband who was bringing that goat home.  I tried to hush her (thinking that my brother just spent a dollar for a walking problem but not wanting to make him feel worse than he would be once reality sunk in-something was definitely wrong with that goat) and hoped that nobody else noticed that we just bought the worst animal at the auction.  It didn’t work, everyone was staring at us and smirking.

Gratefully the cows started coming in through next.  In came a mad bred cow.  She was snorting, she was huffing, she was racing around the room glaring at us all.  My son and nephew backed off as far as they could go, and to the amusement of on-lookers, two  clamoured to the next row back. I just sat as still as I could-she was scary.  Then came calves.  You do not know how delighted we were when we bid on a calf and actually won the bid at 110.  two cows feedingsThere were three in the lot and we picked biggest of the three. As they were leading our calf out, I heard my brother ask if we could take the medium calf for the same price.  The auctioneer agreed and I was secretly thrilled to have two calfs.  I couldn’t believe I was the proud owner of two calves.  If my husband was here he definitely would not have been impressed, but somehow, sitting beside my two equally naive optimistic siblings it seemed perfectly wise.  Then to make matters better, the auctioneer started off the bid for the last of the three calves and nobody was biting. . . except my sister who slyly got the third calf for 20 dollars!!  Wow!! What fun!! ana feeding cows We were delighted (except my sister-in-law who kept asking us ‘Why do we need three cows?’ to which nobody had an answer to).

I would have liked to stay and watch more of the auction, but the truth of our situation was quickly sinking in.  Here were were, owners of 5 chickens, a goat and three cows and no way of getting them home!!  My resourceful brother took it all in stride.   With more class than I would have imagined he coolly showed up to pick up his livestock a few hours later with a rented u-haul trailer!!  We had got looks when we bought the calves, and those looks got better as we drove off leaving a trail of calf urine leaking out the floor of the trailer.  We didn’t care.  It was so fun doing things together, and laughing at ourselves and enjoying the moment.  Unfortunately we were not prepared for what awaited us back home.3cows

Since my sister is pregnant, my brother sent her home with his wife to rest and get our families prepared.  Five hours after purchasing our calves we drove up to “The Land”.  The kids were all eagerly waiting to see our purchases but my sister was not so pleased. “Did you know. . .” she began the minute I got out of the suburban “that Houlstein cows are the most dangerous cows out there?  Did you know they killed a thousand people last year.  And the bulls are the worse, they are nasty, they just turn on you the minute you aren’t looking.  And I read on the internet. . .” she continued hardly pausing for a breath “THE BOTTLE FED BULLS ARE THE WORSE!!!”.  She stopped and stared at me, letting that statement hang in the air before asking “Did we get bulls or heifers??” I stopped too and admitted sheepishly “I don’t know”.  My brother opened the door and to our dismay three skinny (they looked better at the auction), scouring bulls stumbled from their confinement (we had stopped often to open the back and let fresh air in).  “That’s it!” my sister cried “everyone out of the pen.  These bulls are going back.”baby eating cow

“They can’t go back” I argued “nobody is going to buy three skinny sick calves.  We have to at least fatten them up a bit.  Maybe if we casterate them they won’t be so bad.”

My sisters face lit up “That’s right the internet said that if you casterate them they change from being bulls to being girls.”

I was working with the goat when she said that and stopped “They DO NOT turn into the girls” I countered

“Yes they do” she insisted “I read it on the internet!”

“Dear sister of mine” I scoffed (yes I need to be gentler) “there is no way that casterating a bull turns them into a female.  Haven’t you read the proclamation to the family-gender is part of our pre-mortal existence”

She laughed “I know but the internet said “if you casterate a bull it becomes a steer!”.  I burst out laughing then, and was pleased to at least know that “a steer is a casterated bull-not a female cow”.  Good naturally my sister laughed at her mistake.

“Fine, but I am asking Brother Still (a local rancher) to tell us what to do. He is already on his way because I called him about milk replacer, and he called the feed store and convinced them to stay open longer so we can pick up so we can pick it up.” she retorted, still upset.Et feeding baby cow

Well it wasn’t long before Brother Still showed up.  Without even cracking a joke or smile he looked over our ‘herd’.  “Brother Still, what should we do with all our bulls” my sister  asked desperately (my sister is very dramatic).  With this question he looked over at her still poker faced and responded “These are all heifers, not bulls!”   Everyone cheered at that announcement, though the adults were very embarrassed (but relieved).

Thankfully Brother Still educated us on cow anatomy, how to feed baby calves, how to keep them safe and healthy.  Everyone took turns feeding, petting and loving the poor scared creatures.  After Brother Still left my sister and I just looked at each other and laughed.  We sure have a lot to learn, and doing it together makes the whole journey way better!Daisy eating