Storm in Sympathy with Texas

Last night we had a such a violent storm, I felt it was in sympathy with Texas. The lightning, especially in my second story bedroom, was blinding and constant. Between the thunder and lightning Bailey wouldn’t even stay upstairs with me.

The power went out of course. It turned out to be from one of our old pine trees falling on a power line in the back. Duke Electric was out to fix it at 6 AM.

Naturally, Mom and I both worried about the animals. They are all okay this morning, even the Guinea keets that we had just put out in their larger pen. Three of them had flown out yesterday evening, startled by Bailey, and I thought they were lost to us. But they were all back this morning. I was able to herd them into the pen so now all is well.

There were some fallen branches, which Dad is taking care of.

The Sound of Frogs

At some point during the storm, the frogs came back. They make a monumental noise! You may think it becomes ‘white noise,’ but it sounds so much like thousands of voices, just out of understanding, that it draws my attention instead of soothing it. It can be downright haunting! Other times, it sounds like a semi-trailer truck on the property. Mom and I have both gone outside wondering about it before remembering it’s the frogs. Here’s an audio recording for you.

 

Last night, I didn’t understand, and now I do, why the frogs have been ‘gone,’ and why they ‘came back’ all the sudden. The Mayhaw Pond has water it finally! Even though it’s been raining all summer, the pond hasn’t filled. The storm last night changed that.

We have the news on about hurricane Harvey’s impact on Texas. My brother, Phil and wife Frances live in Dallas, so they are okay. We just received word that my brother, Ken from Tallahassee will go out there to do damage estimates. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the people there during and after this storm.

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Ranchers Journal – Thursday August 17, 2017

Got started late and stayed out longer than I expected to. So this will be brief – or at least that’s the plan. Once I get to ‘talking,’ I find I have lots to say!

One of the things I did this morning was to make an extra trip to check minerals. The goats need copper and they all need selenium. Based on soils tests that Bobbie has done, there’s just not enough available naturally here.

We keep the minerals in these blue containers out in the pastures. The containers swivel easily and have a ‘fin’ on the top of them. No one has told me this, but I suspect they are designed to swing downwind to keep the minerals dry. Brilliant!

Livestock mineral box at Golden Acres Ranch Florida

Keets in the Tool Room

The keets are fine. I changed out the catch paper under the brooder. They, like the hens, sure do waste a lot of feed in their search for the perfect grain. They scatter the feed all over, and the the amount that falls through the grate to the paper can’t be recovered since it has poop in it.

Chickens

We think we have around 95 chickens. They consistently give us about two dozen eggs a day. The new chickens started laying the cutest little eggs a month or so ago. They’re cute, but we can’t really sell them as full-sized. We’re glad to see they’re starting to get bigger now.

Pasture #1

I added another goat to this group. A small, white one with a tan face from #10. They are all doing well. This pampered herd gets alfalfa pellets at the end of the day.

Pasture #2 and #3

The male sheep are well and noisy.

Pasture #4 and #5

The count is right and water troughs are full. The hose or automatic filler valve is broken at the #5 trough, so we can’t leave it turned on. It’s on our long list of things to fix, but until then, we need to walk back into the pasture to make sure the goats have water.

Pasture #6 thru #9

I only saw eight lambs today so I had to play the shepherd and go looking for the other three. Found them and they were fine. In this heat, I don’t hurry to do anything, and my rubber boots get heavier and heavier as the morning goes on.

Pasture #10

Count is right with this mixed goat herd. It’s from here that I snatched up the little white one and took it to #1.

Pasture #11 and #12

Mom and Dad went out early-ish this morning to move the male goats from #11 to #12. We’re having the fence moved at the back of #11. One of the goats, the tan one I noticed hanging back yesterday, is droopier today. And skittish; it took three of us to corral him and take him up to the barn for treatment.

Droopy goat in need of some TLC at Golden Acres Ranch

A long time friend of my folks brought back a goat they were using to breed with their females. It’s a black and white, and the existing males are butting it around, which they always do when a new one shows up. They’ll sort it out shortly.

Pasture #13

Aaagh. I forgot to count the ewes. Nothing untoward jumped out at me, so I can count them next time I’m out there.

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EZ Hutch Shelters

EZ Hutch livestock shelters for sale at Golden Acres RanchWe have 11 available for sale. We’re the local distributor for EZ Hutch.

What you see in the photo are the pointy-shaped style. They’re great for goats because they can’t stand on top of them. So you can put them near a fence.

They’re sturdy, weather-proof and any of us can move them. Check out the video of my 80-something year old mother moving one.

The price is $429 each, or $409 for two or more. If you want to pick up here, 3-4 units can fit together and be transported in a full-sized truck or a trailer. Tied securely of course.

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Ranchers Journal – Wednesday August 16, 2017

Highlights

Got started when I wanted to this morning, about 7:30 AM. First the keets. Yes, we will have Guinea Hen keets for the Fall Farm Tour this year. Bobbie was able to find and hatch seven of them, which are doing fine in our brooder. They are the standard gray/brown breed that we have on the ranch. Here’s a view of them from the side door of the brooder. I’m surprised to see how predator-like their bills are shaped. At least a couple of them will be big enough to put in a larger pen soon. We’ll have 50 ‘exotic’ keets delivered to us to raise and sell around August 29th.
Guinea Hen keets at Golden Acres Ranch

Pasture #1

The constant rains have been hard on our goats and sheep in that the soggy ground, along with the heat, makes prime habitat for parasites. Historically, it’s not been worthwhile to raise ruminants in this soggy part of Florida because of this. Mom has been breeding the goats especially to be parasite-resistant. Even so, we’ve got a few that have succumbed.

The first sign a goat or sheep is having trouble is diarrhea, so we’re always on the lookout for ‘poopy butts.’ If they are quite far gone, they behave lethargically, but we want to catch and treat them before that, of course.  Catching a goat or sheep while their still lively can prove to be quite a challenge. I did buy a lasso, but that’s another story.

We can herd the whole group into the barn and sort them out from there. The next sign that an animal is having trouble is the color of their eyelids. When you pull the lower lid away from their eye, the color, like our own, should be red. If it’s pale or white, you know that something is depleting them.

Healing goats at Golden Acres Ranch

This group is the latest that are being given extra care to remove the parasites and fatten them back up. I’ll explain how we treat them exactly in another post. As part of the breeding policy, we’ll help them out a time or two. But if they are too susceptible, we have to let nature run it’s course, and let them die.

Pasture #2 and #3

We have the lambs out here now. There are 11 females who are close to breeding age. they are all in good shape; freshly sheared, hooves trimmed and a couple treated early for signs of parasites.

Chickens

The chickens are next this morning. The rains make the chicken yard a sloggy mess of mud and chicken poop. Disgusting! So what I’ve taken to doing is bring in a flake or two of hay for each worn out area. I don’t have to spread it out, the chickens do a wonderful job. And they find bugs to eat in there, too.

Pasture #4 and #5

Here we have the mini-myotonic goats, plus Jilly a story unto herself. They all look great. There are 10 plus 12 plus Jilly = 23. Yep, that’s just right.

Pastures #6, #7, #8 and #9

We have the male sheep in here. One of them will be selected soon to join the young females in #2 and #3.

Pasture #10

Here is where we have the blended, larger goats. The nubians and kikos, which includes the beautiful male, Kane. I see one small, white one with a tan head with a poopy butt. When Bobbie gets home, we’ll go out and get her.

Pasture #11

The male goats along with Rocky and Andrea the Great Pyrenees livestock dogs. Goats are accounted for, although I think one of them may be having some trouble. He doesn’t look particularly poopy, but he’s hanging back during food time. I’ll keep an eye out on him.

Pasture #13

The female sheep, or ewes. They are looking good and all accounted for.

Christine

Our Featured Product for Today

Mayhaw Jelly

biscuits and Mayhaw Jelly from Golden Acres RanchYes – We have no berries because the harvest was so bad last spring! But, we have Mayhaw Jelly, and we can ship anywhere in the United States.

The best way to reach us with questions or your order is by the form on our Contact Us page. Prices are on our Homemade Jelly page.

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Great Pyrenees Puppies for Sale

India's puppies
Born April 19, 2017, we have two of India’s puppies left for sale, a male and a female. They have a clean bill of health and their shots from the Animal Medical Clinic here in Monticello.

Great Pyrenees are large, working dogs that belong on a ranch with a job to do. They don’t herd livestock, they bond with the herd and protect them from predators. Ours live outdoors all the time.

We are looking for good ranch homes for these pups. If you are interested, let us know when you want to come by and see these little ( well, little for now ) darlings. They’ll get to be 100+ pounds over the next several months!

The price is $450. The best way to contact us is by email at contactus@goldenacresranchflorida.com.

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Watering the Chickens

Chickens

I went out to feed the chickens first this morning. They had enough feed still, but all the water canisters were ready to be filled. Since I’d been seeing some runny poops (we’re very ‘poop-centric’ here), I decided to add some apple cider vinegar to each. Just a quarter cup or so. Vinegar is natural product that helps with parasites and those little funny things that upset the balance of health. We’ve have never used a chemical product with our hens. Even the feed we use is non-GMO.

This chicken yard hasn’t been set up very long, just a month, maybe, yet it looks depleted already. This is the first time we’ve had so many chickens at once, so even though we made this yard bigger than before, it’s time to move it to a fresh spot.

Many of the youngest hens are not laying yet, and the hope is they will start as the older girls molt in July. When hens molt (a time of rejuvenation) or brood (sit on eggs) they don’t lay eggs. People are often surprised and asking “What’s wrong with my chickens?” Most folks think there are unlimited eggs available but our regular customers know that’s not the case. Another time when hens don’t lay is in winter. We’ll still nurture the chickens all winter by providing a non-GMO feed even though they are not laying eggs.

Family Visit

Ken and family will be coming out today. They come out for dinner on Sunday nights quite often. We’re going to put the men to work with a couple heavy-duty tasks. After dinner, we usually play Euchre, a game popular in Ohio and Michigan.

I set up a ‘new’ desktop computer for Dad, and re-arranged all the wiring on and behind his desk. It’s a heavy L-shaped desk that needs to be re-aligned, so I’m going to ask the guys to help me put new casters under it while we’re at it.

In case any of you are reacting with horror that I would be messing up Dad’s work station, please know I am super-sensitive about putting things he works with right back where I found them. I checked in with him this morning, and he’s not cussing at me yet! 🙂

Gator with old zipline tangled on the top.

Mom needs the guys to remove a forgotten zipline kit she ‘collected’ with the Gator yesterday. Apparently it was set up on the ranch years ago, and since forgotten about.

The Gator is a diesel 4X4 ATV that we use to cart feed, collect fallen branches and sometimes to take guests around the farm for a tour. They have to have their farm clothes on for this venture. The Gator is the ranch all around mule team. It is heavy duty, noisy and has many duties.

The old zipline on the roof is definitely adding an unfamiliar vibration to the already complex noises of the Gator.

Christine

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Quiet Sunday

It’s a quiet time right now, ranch-wise. Animals to care for are at their minimum, the young and adult chickens are consolidated into one area, most of the puppies are gone and the weather is steady. All this is particularly noticeable after an event like the Mayhaw Festival.

The number of people to care for them are down to the core group. Charissa and Mimi are off visiting relatives for the weekend, so it’s especially quiet today. Just me, Mom and Dad.

So, even though we can holler out at each other, “Did you feed the big dogs?” I print out our “Daily Animal Checklist,” and keep it marked up. It helps me learn the different ‘departments’ we keep. And on a lazy morning, helps me remember to do each thing.

Daily Livestock Checklist with guinea egg

As these “Rancher’s Journal” posts are meant to actually be a regular journal, and not high entertainment or product promotion, I’ll just go through each segment with my notes. Some days will be boring, some exciting and hopefully, they all be educational for other ‘rookie ranchers’ like myself.

Chickens

I fed and watered the chickens first this morning. They all came to greet me at the fence, so I knew they were out of feed. That’s not so unusual, and they won’t starve. There’s plenty of bugs, grass and daily kitchen scraps for them to munch on.

I used up the last of the store-bought feed in the small bin we keep next to the coops. I thought we were down to our last bag until I found out we also keep them in the regular feed room. I thought we only kept them in the barn feed room.

Guinea Hens

We’re all on the lookout for Guinea Hen eggs. They lay large clutches, low in the ground, and are really hard to spot. We want to find them and raise them for sale, but haven’t yet.

There are a couple of white ones in with the chickens and have used the chicken nests to lay an egg or two. They’re small and tear-drop shaped. Someone found one and didn’t recognize it, so it got refrigerated with the chicken eggs.

Goats

We currently have mini-myotonics in pastures #4 and #5. They were all accounted for and healthy looking. The mix of large girls are in #10, also all accounted for and healthy.

I did kind of sleep through the feeding this morning, so I’ll have to go back and check their water and minerals during the day.

Out in #11, where we keep the males, one of the young, white ones, with curled horns, was stuck in the fence. It wasn’t difficult at all to get him out, though.

Sheep

We keep the males out in #12. The two forever-sheep were there, healthy and active. And we currently have five young males out there. All present and accounted for.

The females have been staying out loose in #13, the easement and our young orchard, but right now, they are close to the house because we have one girl with an odd injury we’re keeping an eye on. If we have to bring her into the barn, it will be easier with them closer. So far, she’s active and eating, and not in distress, so we’re just monitoring.

I’m not sure how graphic I should get about the details, so I’ll just say this injury, or ailment, or whatever it is, is affecting one of her teats. Mom’s sheep colleagues say they’ve seen this sort of thing on occasion and although the sheep loses the teat, it’s otherwise okay.

Livestock Dogs

We’re down to our core group of Livestock dogs again. Roper, Honey and India in the pastures close to the house, and Rocky out with the male goats in #11.

Honey, who’s recovering from her litter of puppies will join Rocky soon. India’s in the barn with her three puppies. And Roper, who is supposed to be in #10, has found an easy place to get out, so he’s up in the main yard at the house all the time now.

Sketch of pasture locations on Golden Acres Ranch Florida

That’s it for today. Tomorrow is Memorial Day, and I wish you all a fun, safe and memorable one.

Christine

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Fiber Fun at the Festival

Working with natural fiber is a big part of our activities here at Golden Acres Ranch. Bobbie is a member of the Weavers Guild and has been working on the loom in Country Store. The loom will warped and anyone can try their hand at weaving this weekend at the Mayhaw Berry Festival.

large loom set up in the County Store at Golden Acres

We’ll have all kinds of fiber to mess with – dirty wool, clean wool, camel hair, llama fleece and some cotton. Samples of  felting – both dry and wet. Try your hand at using a wool picker (lots of nails so keep your fingers out) and then use the hand carder to make batts and roving for spinning.

We are setting up peg looms for small rugs and rocking chair cushions, and handmade knitting looms for caps and scarves.

small peg loom

Alice Cappa will be spinning nearby on Saturday, and experienced weavers from our local guild, The Seven Hills Handweavers Giuld will be here to share their experiences and answer questions. Come and have some fiber fun.

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Food at the Festival

We’re ‘cooking up’ some special food items for the Mayhaw Berry Festival this weekend.

Johnston’s Meat Market BBQ Lunches

Johnston’s Meat Market will be here with their awesome mobile kitchen. This is the cooking unit they take to storm areas where the emergency personnel need to be fed by the hundred’s. We’re so glad to have Johnston’s here for us – and that there’s no big storm!

Johnston's Mobile Kitchen at Golden Acres Ranch

Click Here to View or Download Menu

Curried Goat

With fresh carrots and potatoes, and Golden Acres ground goat, this is a real favorite of our visitors. Johnston’s will be serving small and large cups from their mobile kitchen, and you can buy ground goat from the Country Store.

Biscuits & Jelly

We’ll also be serving hot biscuits and Mayhaw Jelly. This is a new item, but sounds so delicious we have to try it. We’ll see if you like it, too.

biscuits and Mayhaw Jelly from Golden Acres Ranch

The biscuits are from our local Jefferson Farmers Market on East Washington Street.

Country Store Treats

You’ll also find Mayhaw Berry Bundt cakes and ice cream on a stick in the Country Store… while supplies last!

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The unBerry Mayhaw Berry Harvest Festival

The Harvest

For those of you who are already tracking the “Berry Barometer” on this year’s Festival Page, you know that the warm, dry winter and the late frost crashed our berry harvest. Last year, we harvested 200 gallons, this year we’ll only have 5-6.

You can catch up on the videos through our YouTube Channel Playlist “Mayhaw Berry Harvest Festivals.”

Mayhaw Berries on trees at Golden Acres Ranch Florida

It’s not happening just here at Golden Acres Ranch, either. We’ve been hearing it from people around the whole region. A woman from Texas called looking for berries because her usual source lost his crop this year, too. Well, this is ‘Reality Farming.’ Some years just don’t work out. Bobbie says it’s only happened once before in the last 17 years.

Still, the Festival goes on! And we hope you all will come out and share this ‘unBerry season’ with us. Bobbie and Charissa are making up jelly from the last of our frozen berries, so you won’t do without this special, regional treat. There’s some baking of Mayhaw Cake going on, too, filling up the house with good smells.

And here’s an idea. We’ll give out cups for you to go out and find berries. You can keep what you harvest, and we even found a recipe for dessert sauce you can make with just a cup of juice.

Mayhaw Dessert Sauce

Ingredients
1 cup mayhaw juice
1/3 cup water
½ T cornstarch
½ c + 1 T sugar

Directions
Combine juice, water and cornstarch, mix well. Heat in small pot medium heat until mixture changes from milky to clear. Add sugar, mix well and bring to a boil. Cook for two minutes and remove
from heat. Serve warm or allow to cool. Refrigerate unused portion. Stir or shake prior to using.

Excellent on cheesecake, pancakes, waffles, crepes, fruit, cream cheese, cakes, etc.

~ Melissa Jones Hech, Louisiana

Log Cabin Tours

Speaking of the house, we have a special surprise for log-home lovers this year. Tours of the House for $5 each. They will take place at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm both days. Okay, there, we said it! Now we have to clean the house.

log house July 2016 Golden Acres Ranch Florida

Activities & Local Vendors

If you are a regular, you know that we will have hay rides with farm tours. Ours is a working goat and sheep ranch. You’ll see some young’uns in the pastures, as well the tiny mini-myotonic goats that are just as small. You can buy cups of feed and let your kids enjoy the petting area. We also have myotonic, or Tennessee Fainting Goats, that are ready to sell for pets, meat or livestock breeding.

We have a lot of chickens right now, which are fun to watch. There will be corn hole games, a basket ball hoop and hammock as well as picnic tables to enjoy your day out.

Besides the local artists, producers and vendors you have come to expect, we have George Holm who makes red oak wood cutting boards in all shapes and sizes.
Red Oak cutting boards by George Holm

Melinda and Bob Copper have new art to show; clay masks. They’ll have their custom cards, too. They are responsible for much of the painting and artwork around the ranch. Be sure to take a good look at the walls in the Country Store. Melinda and Bobbie created the neat effect.

Clear Lake Farm will be here this year! They will have a variety of USDA pork products: sausage,  chops, Boston butts etc. The hogs are forest-raised on our farm. They’ll also have goat milk soap,  and cheese which is non-GMO and made at the farm with raw milk. And maybe some organic produce from our garden. 

Hog and piglets on Clear Lake Farm Florida

Johnston’s Meat Market‘s mobile kitchen will be here, featuring catering pro, Ursula Wuerner. Johnston’s sandwich menu will be available as well as Mom Golden’s curried goat, a favorite with our Festival-goers.

Looking for local ag or residential property? All Realty Services is new to us and asked to be a part of our Festival. They are a locally-owned and operated real estate brokerage firm serving Jefferson county, Madison county, and the surrounding areas. They will set up as an informational booth where you can leisurely talk to them about the home and property buying and/or selling process, and what properties are available right now.

The Country Store this year is stocked with jelly, of course. We also have our fresh, frozen, USDA-processed lamb and goat. Cuts include ground and cubed bone-in of  lamb and goat, plus cubed boneless and leg roast of lamb, and shanks and leg (ham) of goat.

You can see the big loom Bobbie is working on, and even try your hand at rug weaving.


So, lots planned, lots to see and do. And this is just the half of it. Keep up with everything at mayhawberryharvest.com

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Mayhaw Berry Harvest Festival 2017

It’s that time of year again. Time for the Mayhaw Trees to be producing berries! But are they? There was a late frost just as the trees came out of dormancy, and this winter was too warm and dry. So we are checking them every day to see what the harvest might be like. For a Berry Barometer Report, check our Mayhaw Berry Festival Page.

Fresh berries or not, we are gearing up for a fun festival, gathering together our sponsors and local vendors.

Some of the special happenings for this year’s festival are…

Petting Puppies

Honey had a litter of fluffy, healthy pups on March 18th. All but one of them are sold and will be ready to go to their new homes on Saturday, May 13th, the first day of the Festival.

Honeys puppies at about 6 weeks

Now India (Honey’s mom) just had a litter this last weekend! They won’t be ready for new homes until June, but they will be here, and crawling around, for the Festival.


We’re only putting some of our posts in the Newsletter now. So come on by the website to see more. https://goldenacresranchflorida.com/blog/.

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