Every day, twice a day, Tyler and Taci move the milking animals.   The pictures below are after their morning milking and the girls are being walked from the milking barn to one of the pastures.  They are fully aware of where they are going and do not need to be encouraged much.

Walking with Alaythia, Kate, Holly and Emma

However, once they start across the hay field, there is much to distract them.  Here Tyler and Taci need show a little patience and allow the animals a few mouthfulls on the way, or they end up doing a little dragging.

Crossing the Hay Field

The pastures have been divided up into several paddocks so that the animals are moved to a fresh area every day.  Each paddock will be grazed one day and rested for over two weeks to allow regrowth.  The animals anxiously line up at the wire, waiting for it to be moved into the next paddock.  As you can see the paddock used the day before is nowhere near being over grazed.

Waiting for fresh grass

Notice the difference in the height of the grasses and forbs.  All the animals go for the herbaceous plants first and then settle into the grass.  After a few hours, everyone contentedly chews the cud for the remainder of the day,  occasionally getting up to refill the tank.

Tyler and Taci hooking the hot wire back up on new paddock.

All the meat animals, be they beef, goat or lamb are left in the pasture at all times.  They are never fed any grains and are true grass fed, organically grown animals.   At the end of the day the process is reversed for the milk animals and they are returned to the barn for milking.  Here they are fed dry hay and their mineral intake can be monitored and regulated.    They will spend the night in the shelter of the barnyard and start the process over again in the morning.  They are very contented animals!


Livestock Delivery

I’ve heard the expression – “Get your goat” but it never brought to mind a picture like this.  This gives new meaning to the term – Market Fresh!

Spread out boys, they can't get us all!

Of Goats and Green


S4300002Well, we’re down to our last 17 bales of hay.  Not much left!   But, the meat goats are on green pasture and we are only feeding the milk goats, so we are confident it will last until the first cutting of alfalfa. We have never had to buy any hay for our goats as long as we,ve lived here.  God has blessed us abundantly.  I believe that this summer we are going to need to renovate the alfalfa so we may need to purchase a little for next winter but not much.

This is Wally. He was our only bottle fed kid this year and he has managed to weasel his way into our hearts. He gets let out of the pen several times a day and goes on walks through the alfalfa field. Since we always take the dogs on those walks too, Wally tends to think he might just be a dog. He pays no attention to the other goats on the other side of the pasture fence, but heels quite well. On a walk with Wally

Wally gets his head scratched. What do you think, is Wally a little spoiled? …… Ahhh…. rotten!!gettin scratched

Wally may have figured that a Pack Goat stays around longer than a Meat Goat.S4300006

He may be trying hard, but the jury’s still out on this one.


The goat is often called the “poor man’s cow” and unfortunately because of their connection to those of more humble means, they have, on occasion, been labeled as an inferior animal by cultures, which like ours, place such inordinate value on material wealth. What seems to have escaped notice by such people is that this is a title of honor, of significance, and although it falls short of doing them full justice, it does hint at some of the incredible and diverse strengths of these amazing animals. They are such hardy and resilient creatures and I am continually amazed by how smart and resourceful they are. As odd as it sounds, I have at certain times seen them standing on their hind legs trying to reach a tree branch overhead, and if that’s not sufficient they will even jump from that position. A better indication of how smart they are is that when he or she succeeds in reaching their treasure, they will pull it down and hold it within easy reach for their companions to enjoy.

Of all the animals we raise on our farm the goats are by far the ones I take pleasure in the most. They are such bright, inquisitive, and energetic companions and once you have earned their trust they are incredibly loyal; always wanting to be with and follow you wherever you go. They never seem to tire of hearing my voice and I never tire of hearing theirs

Just yesterday I finished breeding our last doe for this year, and now with the breeding season behind us, we can rejoice in the prospect of next year’s bounty. May the kids be many, healthy and full of life!


Although this event happened over a month ago, some may still find it interesting.

I am throwing in a disclaimer at this point. The pictures and descriptions that follow depict the stark realities of a birth by C-section. The picture quality is not very good – I apologize.

I have read on many blogs this spring and looked at many pictures of goats kidding and of cute new kids. These are fun to share and experience. However, to only see the miracle of natural birth and clean, cuddly kids only is to ignore the reality of farm life and the husbanding of the animals under your care. Although messy, it is no less a miracle of God, and no less interesting.

Kate is a three year old French Alpine who came to us from Texas as a first freshener. She is the goat pictured on the stand here. She has had her troubles and triumphs during her time with us as far as kidding goes but she has come through it all and actually become our star milker. One of the things which makes Kate unique among our goats is the fact that she has a deep body and carries her kids so well that we never really know if she has been successfully bred until she is actually in labor. Last year she kept us guessing until the day of her delivery and then had three beautiful kids. This year was no different! Even on the day she began streaming Janis and I were voicing our concern over the fact that we may not be able to milk her this year, but true to her form, labor started that afternoon. Now we are not of the opinion as some are, that we should just leave our animals to themselves to let things happen as nature intended. I believe God intended that we shepherd our flocks and look to their needs.

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks and look well to thy herds. And thou shalt have goat’s milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the nourishment of thy maidens. Proverbs 27:23, 27

After all they and their increase is a gift form the Lord.

And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee. Deut. 7:13

Well, looking to their needs includes watching over their delivery, as animals sometimes need a little (sometimes a lot!) of help. Our vigil with Kate began Saturday evening. We had been occasionally checking on her all afternoon and by late evening I was convinced that her time was eminent. I set a timer in our bedroom and rose from sleep every two hours all through the night and into the next morning. She was having a few contractions, but nothing of any significance and it drug on into Sunday. At noon Kate’s right flank hollowed as the kids moved into position in the birth canal. At 2:00 pm her left flank also hollowed. She had been streaming mucus for 24 hours. She had been scratching out nests in the stall and now did not want to stand. (goats deliver standing most of the time) All signs pointed to an immediate delivery and Janis and I began spending longer periods in the barn waiting. And waiting…and waiting. We went to bed and set the timer to rise each hour and a half. At 3:00 am I felt this had gone on long enough with no results and decided to see if she had dialate. What I discovered was what felt to be two sets set of hooves and no head (multiple kids trying to come at once, which of course cannot happen) . I also discovered that Kate had not dialated far enough to birth a kid. While checking her she gave the first real contraction of any significance. I hurried into the house to get Janis’ help as I knew we would probably have to go in and rearrange the kids in order for them to be able to pass. This is not a decision I would hurry into as it is possible to rupture the cervix or uterus wall and I do not want to do any damage, nor do I want to interfere where no interferance is warranted. But when it is needed, it is either go in and fix the problem, or both the mother and the kids will die. I tried massaging the cervix as Kate had her contractions in order to get her to dialate, but there was no change in several hours. I knew Kate could not pass this kid. At 7:00am I called the Veterinarian at his home for advise. He concurred she needed help. He arrived at 8:00am and checked her, confirming the fact that Kate was not going to dialate and would have to have a “C-section” to deliver. This decision in itself must be weighed heavily as it is expensive to perform and you must decide if the gains are worth the costs. I have no illusions about the fact that we are speaking about an animal, even if it is one we are attached to, and the decision to save it is not necessarily automatic – welcome to life (and death) on a farm. Kate, as I said before is our star milker, and at $6 plus for raw organic milk (if it was available in Idaho, which it is not) coupled with the possibility of multiple kids dictated intervention.

The Vet and I discussed where to do the operation and it was decided on the milkroom floor. This is not the first time our family members have had to intervene in a birth, but it was the first time we would need to do a C-section. I was quite surprised to hear the Vet tell that it could be done with the goat standing. This morning was an eye opener for us all. We would assist the Vet by holding Kate still while the doc did his thing. We were very interested to watch the whole process, especially Tyler I think, since he has had abdominal surgery in the past, but of course he was unconscious at the time. In fact my whole family watched with rapt attention as we conversed with the Doc. about the whole process. We found it extremely interesting! We are very thankful to Dr. Lewis for saving the life of Kate and her kid! I have included a few pictures and descriptions.

Shaved and recieving the \

Shaved, swabbed and receiving “local” injection

1st cut through skin.

1st cut through skin

cut through muscle - then reach in to find uterus

Cut through muscle- then reach elbow deep inside to find uterus and bring it to the surface.

Uterus is pulled to surface and cut open to reveal kids

After the uterus was incised, it was found that two fetuses had died about 2/3 of the way through the pregnancy. They were mummified and very, very small.

Mummified kids

Mummified Kids

After these two were pulled out, it was discovered that there was a third kid to be removed, but this one had obviously went the full term as it was full grown.

Birth of new doeling

It was also still alive, which was a huge surprise after all the time that had elapsed since entering the birth canal. It had had a terrible struggle. Dr. Lewis removed it with Matthew’s assistance and Tyler took over the kid’s care. Kate decided she had had enough at this point and laid down on us.

dried and warming

sewing up the uterus

Sewing up the uterus


“Hang in there, we’re almost done.”

stiching up muscle

Stiching muscle

Closing skin

Finishing touches. One tired doe! You can see the kid under the warming light in the corner.

“Take me to the recovery room…NOW!!!”

Here’s Latte today, healthy as can be! Kate is well too.


“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Henry David Thoreau

“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

Psalm 37: 4

Considering the nature of the last few posts on this blog ~ today’s entry will probably prove to be a little boring. I won’t be offering an interesting issue to ruminate on or any particularly deep and profound thoughts to ponder. Instead, I’ve decided to prattle a bit about our life around here and what’s been happening in the last eight weeks since our visit to Missouri.

The return home marked the actual beginning of our Idaho farm year. When we arrived, the garlic was up and growing and the gardens were ready to till. The greenhouse leeks and onions had grown considerably and we had an abundance of chives, garlic chives, thyme, rosemary and lovage to harvest and enjoy. After running corrugates, we immediately planted peas, beets, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, onions, leeks and snapdragons. Flats of tomatoes, peppers and a variety of flowers and herbs were started, many of which have already been transplanted. Our last frost date arrived on May 15, so the rest of the gardens and deep beds will be planted very soon: beans, corn, summer and winter squashes, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, dill, cilantro and basil, plus many more herbs – both annual and perennial. (Tyler is my herb man and Matthew manages several of his own raised beds, as well as the hives of bees). Succession plantings of more peas, carrots, beets and cabbage will also be made. By the middle of June, we’ll be picking strawberries from the strawberry fields and peas from the garden.

The iris, Oregon grape, lilac and buttercup are in full bloom now. The hyacinth, tulip and daffodil are mostly expired, and very soon there will be oxeye daisies and peonies to gather into bouquets. All the ornamental and fruit trees have been a riot of dainty white and pink blossoms, filling the air with a sweet, pungent perfume. It’s intoxicating! I have just recently planted marigolds and nasturtiums in the gardens to help ward off unwanted pests, plus zinnias in a kaleidoscope of colors to add gaiety and celebration to the landscape and our tables.

Our oldest Boer dam, Diana, has delivered three kids: one healthy and robust, the second, mostly dead and the third was stillborn. Tyler described some the details of that event in his post, Dealing With Death …and Life . We have sufficiently nursed #2 to a full recovery and in the process; he and I have become fast friends. I call him Squeak, because quite literally that’s all he could do for the first week of his life. He sounded just like one of those annoying squeak toys you needlessly purchase for your dog at pet stores. His vocals cords have recovered along with the rest of him. I put him in a kennel in the back corner of the kitchen a while back while I tried to grab a short nap ~ he “naaaed” in protest for 10 minutes straight at the top of his lungs.

Our prize milker, Katelyn, had her own set of problems as the time for her kidding approached. After nearly 24 hours of labor with mostly weak and inconsistent contractions, she had still failed to dilate enough for the kid lodged at the end of her birth canal to completely pass through her cervix and enter into this wide wonderful world. After a long, sleepless and anxious night, we called the vet and the four of us watched, held and comforted Kate as Dr. Lewis performed a cesarean section in the middle of the barn floor. We observed in awe as he made his incisions, first through the skin, then through the two layers of muscle to open up her body cavity. Next, he pulled a portion of her uterus out and opened it up as well. He delivered 2 mummified fetuses ~ dead for at least 6 to 8 weeks according to their development ~ and a fairly oversized doeling who was alive, but weak, as she had been tightly wedged in the birth canal for many hours. All my favorite James Herriot stories were flooding through my mind and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Our second milker, Holly, gave birth to two robust bucklings and had an uneventful delivery; though Tyler did have to check her progress and it was necessary for him to help the first little guy out all the way. As much a I fret over our goat gals with their babies, there is no telling what kind of a nervous wreck I’ll be when the Lord one day blesses me with grandchildren!

Last week our second Boer dam, Little Gal, delivered a petite doeling unannounced. When Tyler went out to check on all the does at midnight, she and her tiny one looked up at him and “naaaed” their greetings.

There are three more does yet to kid in the next several days and then our kidding season will be over. In the meantime, four adorable baby goats are being bottled fed two times a day. There is seldom an idle moment in which to catch ones breath.

The broilers and pullets all arrived some time ago. So far, our losses have been few and they are thriving. I have always enjoyed raising laying hens, but for me, meat birds are another story. At this point in our farm adventure, we have always raised the hybrid Cornish Rock to sustain our table. Very soon after they arrive I am usually counting the days in anticipation of their execution . . . . . I simply cannot endear myself to these greedy, brainless birds.

The robins sing sweetly each morning at sunrise and each evening at sunset. There are red-winged black birds with their distinctive call along the canal bank, building nests in the cottonwoods and Russian olives. As usual, the sparrows are twittering about, quarreling one with another and already raising their second brood of babies. Starlings, crows and magpies are making mischief wherever they can find opportunity to do so. And the beautiful red-headed house finches are perching on railings and awning to peer at us through the windows. Varieties of birds visit us each summer here on the farm. They are all a marvel and a joy to behold. Killdeer invite us to chase after them as they lead us away from the nest of eggs they have fashioned in the dirt somewhere by the compost pile. We whistle back in imitation at the meadowlark calling to us from the hay field, and we wait patiently in anticipation for a visit from the goldfinch who perch on the sunflowers planted strategically in the gardens. But best of all the barn swallows will be arriving soon so we can watch the airborne ballet as they swoop and swirl and dance above, about and around us . . . . . how delightful they are.

Currently, I am visiting “suburbia” one day a week as I join my sons to work with them in their lawn care business. Both Allen and I are guiding mowers over postcard size yards around houses in subdivisions, which are barely 12 feet away from each other. T & M Mowing has operated now for 11 years. We started the business as a way for the boys to begin building for their futures financially. It has acted as a springboard for character development as well. Allen plans a post revolving around this very subject in the near future ~ so I’ll save the detail telling for him. Needless to say, a day each week I am tangibly reminded, in one small way, why we have developed this “agrarian” vision and are following after it with all our hearts ~ truly, “Where there is no vision the people perish . . . ” (Prov. 29: 18); whether they’re aware of it or not.

Thanks to all of you who visit our blog, banter with my men, add your words of affirmation and encouragement, and especially offer us motivation, inspiration and hope as we labor alongside you for Christ, His Kingdom and His glory.


Recommended Reading:

The Private World of Tasha Tudor ~ by Tasha Tudor and Richard Brown

Tasha Tudor’s Garden ~ by Tovah Martin and Richard Brown


A farm can mean many different things to different people. Some might think first of a garden or a field of corn, others might think of a milk cow or a herd of sheep. Still others might think of an old barn or farm house, but whatever it happens to be, the images that come first to peoples mind usually are of an idealic, simple or nostalgic life set in a beautiful rural country-side. What most people fail to realize is that a farm is a lot of hard work. Many people desire the life of a farm because they feel it would be the freest, most rewarding and even the best life God has provided for man … and it is. But the reason this is true goes much, much deeper than the surface aesthetics that first awake the spirit of romance in the heart of the aspiring agrarian. Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong believer in the importance of romance in the life of every farmer. I believe that for us to truly be good farmers we must be enamored with the land, work and animals God has given us to steward. I can say this with greater conviction and surety because I have been intimately involved in small-scale, intensive, diversified agriculture for many years. However, in spite of, or maybe because of all that, the real blessings of the agrarian life come not because of some magic setting or picturesque surrounding, but because it is a life of toil, adversity, beauty, balance, work, birth, and yes, even death. It is a life that teaches that a man’s relationship to the land reflects his relationship to God. It is a life that, as Michael Bunker says, is “process not purpose driven,” a life that focuses on obedience, not rewards.

As much as I enjoy growing plants, caring for animals, tending the soil and raising our own food, nothing drives these truths home with greater clarity than when I have to deal with the stark reality of death. Whether I face that death as I kill a meat goat with my hand on its head, or like tonight have to dispose of a young Boer goat that was born still and lifeless before it had a chance to take its first breath, the finality and struggle is just as real. And for me this experience is even more powerful and emotional because I see in the eyes that look at me, (whom they have learned to trust), with a quickly fading light, or in the feeble struggling of one of tonight’s kids who tries to fight for life while on the brink of death, my own pain, fear and struggle when the Lord brought me to that same point just a few years ago. I find it impossible not to sympathize with their plight. However, as difficult as these times can be, it is through experiences like this that Christ teaches us the deepest and most profound lessons of life; lessons that would never have been learned but by a rare few within the confines of urbanism.

On the diversified small farm, children grow up realizing that death is as much a part of life as is birth. We come to understand the reality of God’s curse on creation as we are forced to deal with disease, sickness and death on a very personal level. Or as we learn to accept that when we steward the creation through the taking of dominion, animals must still be sacrificed, (slaughtered), to provide for the sustenance of ourselves and our families. For those just coming out of a sheltered urban lifestyle this can often be difficult to accept, especially as they learn the importance of personally taking responsibility for the oversight and stewardship of that life and death cycle themselves, rather than avoiding the issue by delegating it to someone else. This whole theme of learning to take personal responsibility for the sustenance and care of our own family and our own land is central to the Christian agrarian vision. It is vital that we reclaim our place as stewards of God’s land through tilling the soil and caring for our flocks and herds. As part of this journey, we will be faced with the cold realities of death, but we will also receive the blessings of the full and abundant life God intended for His children, the blessings of agrarianism. And it is worth every minute, for it is a life I would not trade for all the world.

By the way, as I post this this evening we are experiencing one of those very blessings, as it appears that the young goat kid that was born too weak to nurse will actually live. Diana had her first kid about 10:00 last night with two more coming in the next hour and a half. The second one, as I said, was born too weak to stand or even nurse and only half the size of his healthy sibling. The third was born dead. We spent the better part of last night trying to get the weak kid to start eating, which was a very delicate chore since our stomach tube had been ruined from the year before and our new one had not yet arrived, (it came in the mail this morning!). However, Dad persisted with great diligence and his efforts appear to have paid off. It did make for a very long night as none of us got to bed until around 2:00, (which is when I wrote the above post), and Dad didn’t go to bed at all. Nevertheless, it will all be worth it if the Lord continues to bless us with this kid’s recovery. Indeed, regardless of the outcome, we shall praise the Lord with thanksgiving for His marvelous Providence in bringing us to a life of such reward and abundance!


Enjoying the Goats

I have been caring for our young wether (castrated male) goats for just under a year now. Their care began before their birth by caring for their dams. It began in earnest when we had to intervene and assist in the birth of a few of them. We each took turns bottle feeding them, spending time with them out in the barn (because, who can resist baby goats?) looking to their every need. After they were weaned, they were let outside in a small pasture area beside the barn to frolic and play – honing their skills like medieval knights sparring with one another, training to rescue fair maidens. Later they were let out into the large pasture in order to allow room to roam and grow. All summer long, one of my favorite pastimes has been spending time with them in the pasture – playing tag, running down the pasture myself with the whole bunch chasing along behind me, cavorting, twirling and attempting to fly in their exuberance and freedom, loving life and their goatherd (me). All the “boys” want to be the first to catch me, all want to be the first to smell my breath – a cute goat trait an old “goat woman” told me about, that is enjoyed by almost all goats who have a relationship with their goatherd. It is how they like to say “Hi”. I have looked after these friends of mine with all the care I would a favored dog. Trimming hooves, doctoring injuries, feeding, watering, scratching their backs and under their chins. Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks and look well to thy herds. Proverbs 27:23 And now…..comes the time of year in which their lives come to an end. I understand when other people do everything in their power to not get attached to their meat animals, calling them names such as meatball or hamburger in order to lessen the pain. But as for me, I feel that since God has given me these animals to care for, then I must show them the same care as I do all the other animals. Many people butcher in the fall after the threat of flys are past and they can save on feeding hay through the winter. We butcher in late winter to make preparations for all the new kids that will be born in spring. We also do it now because when all those baby goats are born, I no longer have time to spend with the wethers. This is the time of year when “taking dominion” doesn’t come easy to me. It is a sober time of year, but also one for which I am very grateful to our Father for His provision. It is a time of seemingly ultimate destruction, but also one for building the strength of my family. A time to add to our larder.

The taking of an animal’s life in an intensely personal act for me. I make sure that I am involved because I feel a deep responsibility towards these animals I have lovingly raised. I personally feel, at least in my case, it would be cowardly to ask or expect someone other than myself to do the deed, so that I would not have to feel the gravity of the act. When we started raising goats for meat, I did a lot of study into the various ways of slaughtering animals and the stress involved for them, and I found much scientific proof that the slitting of the throat causes much less stress and trauma to the animal. This was quite a revelation for me. I have always been a hunter of elk and mule deer and have always been careful to place my shots well so that the animal did not suffer. They were almost always dead before I arrived. But when slaughtering your own animals, they transition from life to death beneath your own hand – Very personal indeed! I personally believe, because of the instruction God gave to the Israelite people on how to slaughter sacrificial animals, that He had real reasons for doing so in the manor He prescribed. A couple of those might be…

  • It is sure, quick and humane to the animal.
  • It made man take personal responsibility for the taking of an animal’s life.

There are numerous times the scriptures say “And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it.” This applied to every four footed animal slain and even the birds offered were killed with man’s bare hands. Not exactly something for the squeamish. There are several things I would like to point out from these passages. This was not done with a rifle at a distance – it was not a shot between the eyes. This was up close and personal – with a knife – touching the animal. The killing was done personally by the man, for himself or his family. I know how distasteful all this sounds, but after killing my share of animals, in all my years of hunting, I can tell you that this method is much less stressful, with no trauma, and is a much calmer method for the animal. Sometimes the animal doesn’t even acknowledge that anything has happened before it collapses.

Here’s a thought for you. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly equipped unto all good works. II Timothy 2:16,17 Is the manor in which you take dominion over the creatures of creation considered “good works”? I should say so! All our orthopraxy does. It does matter!

This has been a very long winded approach to relate to you and to those who would ask me how I could possibly kill those animals I cared for, that this seems to me to be the best and most noble method I know of. My animals live a happy life (just a little anthropomorphism there – Hi Bambi). They are not over crowded in rank conditions. They do not wallow in their own excrement. They are never left alone but have other goats and sometimes humans to keep them company (goats are very social animals.) They are well fed. They are cared for physically. They are enjoyed by their goatherd. And when their time comes, they are not dragged with chains or shocked with electric prods to get them to enter terrified, onto a killing floor. They are gently led or carried, by me, to a secluded pen where I spend several minutes talking to them and stroking them to calm them even further. Then I or my son lay our hand upon their head and end their life calmly, with respect, with awe and with thankfulness to God for His abundant provision to my family. Very personal indeed!

We then proceed to hoist up, eviscerate and skin the carcass and then hang it to let it age for several days to a week before cutting it up ourselves and processing it ourselves. Below I have included a few pictures of the processes. What these pictures do not show is that this whole process is very much a family affair. Both Tyler and Matthew assist in slaughter and cutting, and Janis and I do all the packaging. Thats the way it is on a multi-generational farm.

Carrying a Wether to the Pen

Calming Talk and Stroking


Ready to Cut
5 Minutes w/ a Recipricating Saw
Knife Work
Processing & Packaging
Meat for the Freezer

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