About Breeding Goats

All You Need to Know about Breeding...

On our farm we have chickens, ducks, goats and a cow. Hands-down the chickens are a favorite of the kids, but the goats are my soft-spot. I love their...

Peanut Butter Cup Explosion Cake

Peanut Butter Cup Explosion Cake

Today I am interrupting my regularly scheduled posts on  gardening, homesteading and healthy recipes to bring you a recipe for a ridiculously rich...

32 ways to earn money from your homestead

32 Ways to Earn Money from Your Hom...

Maybe you are a 1 income family and could use a little supplement to your income. Maybe you are looking to become more self-sufficient and create ...

30 Uses for Calendula

30 Uses for Calendula

Calendula is a staple in my garden each year. The flowers are beautiful and colorful, plus they help with keeping some garden pests away, so we comp...

Recipes

Peanut Butter Cup Explosion Cake

Peanut Butter Cup Explosion Cake

Today I am interrupting my regularly scheduled posts on  gardening, homesteading and healthy recipes to bring you a recipe for a ridicul...

Homesteading

About Breeding Goats

All You Need to Know about Breeding Goats

On our farm we have chickens, ducks, goats and a cow. Hands-down the chickens are a favorite of the ...

Gardening

pesky pest

Keeping Pests Out of the Garden

  The garden is in full swing and so are pests! Do you know how to get rid of slugs? Keep worms off your cabbage? How about how to k...

All You Need to Know about Breeding Goats

About Breeding GoatsOn our farm we have chickens, ducks, goats and a cow. Hands-down the chickens are a favorite of the kids, but the goats are my soft-spot. I love their personalities and all their little stubborn quirks. And around this time of year-when summer is starting to wind down and fall is in sight- things start to get a little interesting in the goat pasture. The does start coming into heat and the bucks go into rut and we start keeping an extra special eye on them so that we don’t have any surprises come winter and spring. Goats will breed easily and readily if left alone, but here are some of the most important things to be aware of when it comes to breeding goats.

Most dairy goats are seasonal breeders.

Most “Alpine” breeds of goat will only breed during their breeding season. This is usually between the months of August and December. These breeds include most of your large dairy goats such as LaMancha, Saanen, Alpine, Oberhasli and Nubians. Sometimes Nubians can be forced into year-round breeding, but that is unpredictable. Your miniature breeds such as Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf, as well as meat breeds, like Boer, will breed year round. So when you are planning for your kids and milking, keep in mind this time restraint.

A doe should be at least 80 lbs before breeding

breeding goats doesWhen it comes to breeding, it’s not so much age as it is size. Most of your standard sized dairy goats will need to make the weight of about 80 lbs before they are bred. A healthy, well-fed doe should make this weight by about 8 months. Some people like to wait until they are about 1 1/2 years old before breeding but it isn’t necessary. I have seen no reduction in growth between breeding 8  month old does and 1 1/2 year old goats.  Nubians particularly are known for being a little on the slower size when it comes to growth, so make sure you have a reliable way to weigh your goats. We don’t have a livestock scale and for years we’ve made do with our bathroom scale.  My husband just weighs himself and then picks up the goat and weighs himself again. Start keeping an eye on weight in August so that you can give additional nutritional support to any does that need it so that they can make weight before the season ends.

A doe’s heat cycle is every 18-21 days

Starting in August your doe should start coming into heat every 18-21 days. Depending on the doe, she will stay in heat anywhere from a few hours to a couple days. Signs to look for:

  • Tail flagging
  • Clumped/Wet hair on the side of her tail
  • Mucous discharge
  • Swollen rear end
  • Yelling (more than usual)
  • Most obviously- interest in your buck or a “buck rag”

Dating  vs Living in

When it comes to the actual breeding process you have a couple choices. You can take your doe and buck on “dates” or you can house them in the same pasture for a set period. There are pros and cons to both sides, but some things to consider are:

  • Dates will give you much more control over the due dates and assurance that the deed did get done
  • Sharing a pasture will reduce the risk that you miss the breeding window by not seeing the signs of heat soon enough
  • Some does won’t stand for a buck without help. In this instance, taking her on a lead to the buck will force the breeding to occur
  • I’ve had a doe that showed ZERO signs of heat- unless the buck was present. By pasturing them together I could insure that she was bred.

The Gestation cycle of a goats is 150 days, or about 5 months.

When you are planning your breeding keep in mind that the gestation period is about 150 days for your standard sized breeds. If you live in a cold climate with harsh winters you probably will not want your kids being born in a snowy and cold January- which  means don’t breed your doe in August! I like my kids all born sort of close so that they grow up together and in case of a single birth the lonely kid will have other kids to play and sleep with, so I don’t stagger my breedings very much. When you notice your doe in heat, write it down on the calender, then calculate the possible due date and jot that down as well (Here is  the link to a goat due date calculator). As long as she doesn’t come into heat again, you can use this approximate due date to plan her prenatal care.

Bucks stink…and other buckish behaviorbreeding goats buck

If you have just one or 2 goats you may opt not to keep a buck on hand. But if you plan on breeding many does or there is not a suitable stud to rent in the area you will most likely end up with a buck on the premises. And here’s the thing about bucks- or at least a buck in rut- They stink. Let me say that again: Bucks STINK! Seriously. Young bucks aren’t so bad, but the smell ripens with age.  Once breeding season hits and your does go into heat and your buck goes into rut they will start some rather amusing, and unsavory, behavior. Such as:

  • Urinating. I know, that doesn’t sound so bad. But they pee on their faces, on the back of their legs, in their mouth….It’s rather amazing the reach they can achieve. Eventually their faces and legs will be covered. Good thing that the does find this irresistible.
  • Blubbering, tongue flapping and lip raising. All these behaviors happen towards the does. Very amusing to watch his mating rituals!
  • Aggression. Bucks will be more aggressive when they are in rut. If you have more than one buck take special care when there are does around so that they don’t end up fighting. Also never turn your back on a buck in rut- even one you may have raised from a bottle. Even if they are not meaning to they can potentially hurt you- especially if they decide to “practice” on you

I actually find our bucks some of the sweetest of our goats. But when they are in rut, I feed them last and have a special coat I wear over my clothes to help minimize the smell contamination.

Keep them in Good Health

During breeding seasons your goats will need extra nutrition to support the stresses on their bodies. Heat, rut and pregnancy takes its toll on their bodies, so be sure to support them with extra grain, high quality hay and lots of forage. Your bucks in rut and your does will need about 1 lb of grain a day. I give hay depending on the amount of forage- if it is rich and plentiful, I do not give any hay. If they are on a dry lot or small pasture they will need more supplemental hay. I also add black oil sunflower seeds to all of our goat’s feed.

In addition to their feeds, breeding season is also a good time to make sure they are not deficient in any vitamins and minerals. We keep loose minerals out free choice for our goats, but if you live in an area that has deficient soil you may also have to give the following supplements:

  • Copper- prevents kids being born with copper deficiency and gives your goats a stronger appetite and a healthier growth rate
  • Selenium/Vitamin E- this prevents white muscle disease in kids and can increase fertility
  • Nutridrench- All purpose vitamin for any goat that may need a little extra nutrition

Line Breeding vs. Inbreeding

When it comes to breeding, you want to make sure your keep a variety of genetics in your herd. There’s a saying something along the lines of: It’s called line-breeding if if works, in-breeding if it doesn’t. And that pretty much sums up the topic in a very simple way. The buck is actually a very important part of the breeding process. He is the easiest way to add in good genetic traits to your herd. When it comes to line-breeding there is no set rules such as breeding daughter and grandfather, except never breed full brothers and sisters. Occasionally  you can breed father/daughter but it’s not ideal.  Line-breeding will accentuate the good qualities- and the bad.  If your buck has any negative traits (aggression, mother had low milk production,etc) those traits will be accentuated in his offspring if the are a product of line-breeding. The best way to get around this is to only keep or breed  high quality bucks and if you keep your own bucks keep at least 2 on hand for the purpose of genetic diversity.

And there is your run down on breeding goats. It’s an exciting time of year with all the promise of next year’s kidding season! Are you a seasoned breeder or just getting started- leave a comment with your experiences or questions!

 

 

 

Peanut Butter Cup Explosion Cake

Peanut Butter Cup Explosion Cake

Today I am interrupting my regularly scheduled posts on  gardening, homesteading and healthy recipes to bring you a recipe for a ridiculously rich, full of sugar and junk cake! My first 3 kids- all boys- have birthdays within 5 days of each other in August. My 2nd born son is a chocoholic. He loves anything chocolate and he inherited my love for the peanut butter and chocolate combo. He is known for requesting cakes that put your senses into overload and send you straight into a sugar coma. And this year was no different. So without further ado I give you the Peanut Butter Cup Explosion Cake!

Peanut Butter Explosion Cake

Here is what you will need:

 

For the Cake:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • ~1 cup chopped peanut butter cups

For the Icing:

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)- softened
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ~3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • dash salt
  • More chopped peanut butter cups

For the Topping:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • Chopped peanut butter cups- TONS of  them!

cake

To make the cake layers you will want to mix all the dry ingredients- flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until well mixed. Add in all of the wet ingredients except for the hot water- eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter. Whisk until everything is well mixed together. Stir in the hot water. Pour your batter into 2 greased 9-in round pans and sprinkle the tops with about 1/2 cup of chopped peanut butter cups each. Place the pans in an oven preheated to 350. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the layers to cool in the pans for about 15 minutes before turning them out onto a rack or tray to cool completely.

peanut butter cake inside

When the layers are completely cool you are ready to start icing the cake. In a large mixing bowl, place the softened butter and the peanut butter. Beat for about 1 minute on medium speed. Add in your sugar (3-4 cups total, depending on how sweet and thick you want your frosting), salt, and the heavy cream. Turn your mixer on to high and allow to beat for about 2 minutes. Spread the frosting on the top of one of the cake layers and top with a good amount of chopped peanut butter cups!

peanut butter cake layers

Top with the second layer and frost the entire cake with your peanut butter icing. Don’t worry about making it really smooth or getting crumbs on the outside- it will be completely covered in ganache and peanut butter cups so any imperfections will be covered!

peanut butter cup cake icing

Once your cake is completely frosted, stick it in the refrigerator to chill before adding the ganache on top. We have a very warm and humid house (no A/C) so I allowed it to chill for about an hour before starting the ganache. To make the ganache, place 1 cup of heavy cream in a small saucepan and heat it on high until it is scalded- just before boiling. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in 1 cup of chocolate chips. Allow the chocolate to sit in the cream for about 2 minutes to allow them to melt. Whisk the melting chocolate and cream until it is very smooth. Add in 1/2 cup of peanut butter and whisk again until smooth.  Allow the ganache to sit for a few minutes. If you allow it to cool a bit, it will be easier to pour over the cake and help it set up to hold the weight of the peanut butter cups.

Pour the ganache over the entire cake.

peanut butter cup cake ganache

This step is easiest done by pouring into the center of the cake and gently pushing it over the sides. Using a knife or icing spatula to gently spread it over the sides slowly to cover the entire surface. I like to place strips of parchment paper or foil around the edges to keep my serving platter clean. Just pull them off after the cake is fully decorated and the ganache is set.

Now it’s time for the candy. I used 2 large bags for the entire cake. I was really wishing mini peanut butter cups came already unwrapped!

peanut butter cup cake complete

With 2 bowls of chopped peanut butter cups, this step takes longer than you might expect. The top is easy, but the sides take some time to get all those peanut butter cups on and in place. You might have to press some in so that the peanut butter icing underneath helps to hold them on. Once it’s all covered in candy, stick it back in the fridge to completely solidify the ganache and prevent the candy from sliding off.

 

peanut butter cup cake

And it’s done! I will warn you that this cake is not for the weak! And when it comes time to serve- cut the pieces SMALL! But if you love the peanut butter and chocolate combo it is so, so good.

peanut butter cup cake inside

Cut, serve, and share! Then go and take a nap while you digest all that sugar!

This post is linked to Wonderful Food Wednesday, Foodie Friday, Foodie Friday, Friday Favorites, The Pin Junkie, Feed Me Friday, Create it Thursday

32 Ways to Earn Money from Your Homestead

32 ways to earn money from your homestead

Maybe you are a 1 income family and could use a little supplement to your income. Maybe you are looking to become more self-sufficient and create your own business and career and stop working for someone else.  A homesteading lifestyle leans itself nicely to work-from-home opportunities. There are a number of ways to continue living and doing what you love and earn an money too. Here are just some of the ways you can earn money from your homestead:

32 Ways to Earn Money from Your Homestead

When it comes to  making money on your own from your homestead all it takes is a little creativity. There are numerous ways- from products to services-to create an extra income stream!

Homestead Products to Market and Sell:

selling eggs

  •  Sell your chickens’ farm fresh eggs. We get $3.50 a dozen here in WNC…you can charge more or less depending on your area.
  • If you have a rooster, why not sell a few fertilized eggs for hatching!
  • Got old chickens? Sell them as stewing hens!
  • Raise and sell broilers.
  • Raise chickens to laying age and sell them as layers.
  • Sell the babies! Kids, lambs, calves, chicks. Become a breeder of whatever animals you happen to raise!
  • Raise and sell meat animals- rabbit, goat, cow, pig. If you raise meat animals for your self, raise a few extra-some for your freezer and a couple to sell.
  • If you raise sheep, angora goats, alpaca, etc you can sell raw fiber after shearing.
  • Plant extra in your garden and sell fresh produce at the local market or direct from home. This is one of the easiest ways to make extra money from your farm or homestead.
  • Start extra seeds in the spring and sell garden transplants for those who don’t start their own.
  • Collect heirloom seeds at the end of the season, package them up, and sell.
  • Sell dried herbs for use in things such as teas or salves.
  • Beekeeping is a satisfying pastime and you can sell honey and other byproducts such as beeswax.
  • Grow mushroom logs and sell homegrown mushrooms. This can be a big business, especially if you can market your product to local restaurants.
  • Rent your space- if you have large acreage you can rent it out for pasture, hay, or planting
  • Raise worms to sell for composting or bait.
  • Raise fish, such as tilapia or catfish. You can do this in a large indoor tank or greenhouse or in a pond if you have one.

 

Value-Added Products to Offer:

Value Added

  • Make homemade soap. Goat’s milk soap is particularly popular.
  • Turn your herbs into herbal lotions, creams, or salves
  • Take your fiber to the next step by cleaning and carding and sell fiber bats
  • Spin yarn from your fiber animals- lots of people who knit or crochet don’t spin their own yarn. The further you process your product the more customers you can reach.
  • Knit, crochet or felt your fiber into finished products.
  • Lots of yard birds have beautiful feathers. If you have peafowl, guineas or even chickens try making feather jewelry or selling the feathers themselves.
  • Are you a baker? Make homemade cookies, cakes, and breads to sell at the local market*
  • If you love to preserve use your berry harvest to make homemade jams, jellies, and preserves*

 

Services to Provide:

picking peaches

  • Start a CSA. Plant more in your garden and offer a few CSA shares to your community.
  • Begin a Farm School or offer how-to type classes.  Chickens 101? Soap Making? Making Cheese? Whatever you are knowledgeable and passionate about!
  • Open up a u-pick farm- plant a field of pumpkins, strawberries or a large u-pick garden.
  • Open up a home-based bakery* and offer catering services for special occasions.
  • Offer up stud services. Many people who raise animals such as goats, don’t want to keep a buck on hand and are looking for a male to provide stud service.
  • If you have a large home or land consider opening up a  Bed and Breakfast and give your guests the farm experience!
  • If you have the room, open up a corn maze in the fall. Agrotourism is big business!

Bonus #33- Write about it! Start a blog or submit article to sites like HubPages. Ads, such as Google Adsense, can help you earn money for your writing.

 

* Check your local state/county laws concerning home-based bakeries before selling food items as well as check to see if you need any other applicable licenses or permits.

 

This post has been linked to Simple Lives Thursday, From the Farm, Homestead Barn Hop,