Dear Marketing World….

Dear Marketing World,

I know you are infatuated with me.  This is obvious since you can’t stop calling me, mailing me, emailing me and even texting me…at all hours…. even when the world is sleeping you are trying to sneak a little time together.  Shame on you! I think it is time for a serious discussion.

There are some things you need to know.  Please take notes.  Memorize them:

I am not a massage parlor.

I do not EVER attend “Spa and Beauty” conferences.  I don’t attend any conferences when they are held in Las Vegas.  Or when the cost is only, $2999.99 excluding airfare. (Seriously?)

I do not give “therapeutic” massages.

I do not want your help with Google+. Really.  Believe me on this one.

I do not give Botox injections.  In fact, I don’t give ANY injections of any kind. Never will.  I am firm on this.

I do not give any massages.

I do not do hair or nails AND I don’t want to spend my last dime to learn how. 

I do not want to know about the latest chemicals I can use to “better my products and increase my sales”.

I do not give massages…ever…for any reason…EVER. Stop asking!

I do not want to pay you skads of money so you can help me increase the traffic to my blog. Nope..not a dime. I’m serious.  Call me crazy, I know!

I do not employ “skin specialists” that I want to send to your 2 day conference for $5,000.

I do not want your help with Google+. Calling me twice a day…EVERY day will NOT change my mind.

Do not call me and warn me “DO NOT HANG UP!”  It compels me to hang up immediately.  Yes, I’m that kind of woman. It’s the principle you see – do you really think I’ll take orders from a stranger?

I’m sorry it has come to this (not really) but we must part ways.  I think you might fall in the category of stalking.  You waste my time.  When I did answer the phone, you were pushy and rude.

I no longer read your letters, folders, packets of info…you are just fodder for bonfires we now enjoy at your expense.  Toasted marshmallows…mmmmm….yummy!  Thanks!

I don’t answer your calls anymore.  I have renamed you…phones let us do that now.  Your new name is “SPAM”.  

I want to break up. 

Don’t call me, mail me or text me anymore…and as Grandma used to say “don’t let the door hit you on the backside as you leave”.

By the way…”Rachel with card services”…just in case you are reading this –          go away.  forever.
   

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Tuesday Herb Talk ~ Plantain!

Plantain (Plantago major) is by far one of the herbs I use the most. It grows everywhere and you can usually find it year round.  It never really disappears during the winter but the plant goes almost “dormant” …very little growth in cold weather. As the weather warms up, it really takes off. You will find this plant growing everywhere…on your homestead…in your lawn….unless you use chemicals to control the weeds. Yes, Plantain is considered a weed but I have found that many of the best medicinal herbs fall into that same classification! It is so amazing to me that our Father has given us all of these “weeds” with such awesome power to support our bodies! And they are literally right under our feet…if we only took the time to learn about the gifts He has given!

There are many forms of Plantain – about 200! The two that grow on our homestead are Plantago Major, also commonly called Common Plantain, Greater Plantain, Ribwort or Waybread.  And Lanceolata  or Fingerling, a variety with long narrow leaves. It is said to have come to North America with the settlers. The Indian’s called it White Man’s Foot because it seemed to grow wherever the settlers traveled.

Here is a picture from my Medicinal Herb Course of plantain growing in my yard.

Plantain

Plantain

The next two are close-ups of the leaves…notice the “ribs”? Hence the nickname ribwort!

This is the front…

Plantago-Major_Green-Leaves__56699-320x480

And this is the back…

Plantago-Major_Green-Leaves__65844-320x480

This picture shows Plantain Lanceolata or fingerling plantain. Notice the seed heads on top?

Plantago lanceolata var. mediterranea

 

Now that you’ve seen it I’ll bet you are saying, “I have that in my yard!” Most people do!

You can use both the leaves and the seeds of plantain (and occasionally the root!).  It can also be eaten raw, dried, used in teas,  decoctions, a wound wash or tincture. It would be a wonderful addition in a formula for wound care!  I also use it in salves.

It is an excellent vulnerary (used to promote the healing of wounds) for both the skin and the mucosal tract. I use it internally for seasonal issues (sinus and throat).  You can put it in your homemade cough syrup to soothe a dry cough and is especially soothing if the throat is sore and/or inflamed. It is also a good relaxing expectorant.

Plantain has very soothing properties and has been found to be effective in supporting issues commonly found in the intestinal tract.

Fresh leaves relieve insect bites and stings. It helps to neutralize the poison of venomous insects – wasps, bees, spiders etc. If we get stung while outside, we grab some plantain and chew it well and then put it on the bite…it reduces swelling, stops the reaction and relieves the pain. My boys have been trained to do this since they were very little. You can also use a leaf poultice to speed wound healing. Jeremy was once bitten by spiders while tearing down an old building. Unfortunately he didn’t quit what he was doing to look for plantain. By the time I saw it, the area was hot, swollen, and red with long red streaks coming from it. I used a poultice of Plantain followed by my Healing Salve.…we saw improvement in a matter of hours.

Plantain also contains baicalin which makes it an excellent herb to add to anti-bacterial formulas used to support the body during times of infection.

Plantain, used as a poultice, helps to stop bleeding and encourages healing. It has proteolytic enzymes, which are active in the fresh leaf (and fresh or dried root). These enzymes reduce inflammation and help reverse allergic symptoms! They also aid in the digestion of food.

Plantain is very high in vitamins A and C and is also a rich source of calcium.

The seeds are related to psyllium seeds and can be used the same way…can anybody say Metamucil? You can powder the seeds and put the powder in juice or you can actually make a tea from the seeds….personally, I prefer the powder.

Of course, I don’t recommend any of these things if you are harvesting Plantain from a lawn or an area that has been chemically treated. When using herbs for medicine it is imperative that they be organic and chemical free!

You should be able to find Plantain growing now. Harvest some this fall for those unexpected emergencies in the middle of the night or when the snow flies. Plan on reaping a larger harvest next spring!  Last year, Elijah and I picked and dried gallons of Plantain because we use it so often. If you can’t find it growing locally, you can always find it at my favorite herb shop – Mountain Rose Herbs.  You can click on their banner on the right or you can find Plantain here.

So, take a walk around your lawn, your homestead or farm or perhaps a friend’s place and look down for some of the wonderful gifts given to you from the hand of your heavenly Father! Then take the time…stop…and give thanks!

Let me know if you find plantain on your place,

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Please welcome the new addition to our homestead!

Call us crazy! (you probably should!)  The Farmer and I felt the homestead was missing something, and we are practical people, so we decided to make that our anniversary gift to each other this year.  Yep! We bought a new critter. Trouble is this particular critter took some time to get.  In fact, we got on a waiting list before she was born. Like last year sometime. The breeder is in high demand because she does such an incredible job. When you are looking to add to your homestead, it is always best to purchase the best you can afford…or wait until you can afford the animal of your choice. We put down a deposit last year and by the time she was born we had saved the rest of the money.

We’ve had her for about 10 days now and we think we made a very wise decision.

Meet  Mira!

13339642_1018794974822417_7603442179475392055_nHer full name is Shamira – which mean guardian and protector in Hebrew. This is one of her early puppy pictures. This breeder keeps you “in touch” with your puppy before you pick her up!

Here is what she looked like the day we brought her home.

IMG_20160628_113118118_HDRI was sort of dreading this…I remember raising other puppies…oh! the howling at night!  Mira did not disappoint….the first night.  I believe in crate training and she slept in her crate, next to the bed.  I spent a good deal of the night dozing with my fingers in her crate to comfort her.

The next night?  No howling…seriously! She slept until about 3:00 am when we took a potty break and then she went right back to sleep until 6:00.  Within a week, she was sleeping through the night…no potty breaks needed!

She had two accidents the first day in the house…but since then, she whines or goes to the door. I believe she knows her name, is semi-potty trained (as long as we pay attention to her cues!) and only howls when left alone. She understands “No!” and “Good girl!”.  We just might have gotten the perfect puppy! Well…there is that problem with puppy teeth…like NEEDLES! I think the puppy breath makes up for it!  Do you like puppy breath? Seems like people either love it or hate it…no gray areas there.

We aren’t going to crop her ears, even though boxers look beautiful that way.  We don’t want to put her through that….besides….they are soft as velvet and wonderful to touch!

We’ve had her just under two weeks and are thrilled with her.  So is my grandson who came to visit! This is their first meeting.

IMG_20160628_185541529He is her favorite playmate…oh!…and the cat. Don’t ask me why but the cat likes to wrestle with Mira. I know…strange.

She will be a big dog (bet the cat won’t wrestle then!) and hopefully a wonderful guardian.  Our guard dog Faith will be 13 this August.  She is going deaf, has cataracts beginning and her bones ache in the cold weather. I don’t know how long we will have her with us but hopefully Mira will take over when Faith can no longer do her job.

So what do you think…are we crazy?  Or just smitten completely with those big brown eyes!

Blessings,

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Don’t forget to dingle your toes in the water!

Life is busy. A homestead life is even busier.  You work hard and most of the time it’s dirty work. Whether you are mucking the barn or helping baby goats there is plenty of poop to deal with!

We have found that it is important to take a break now and then. We did that recently. Elijah asked to take us on a hike to Sill Branch Falls. It wasn’t a hard hike – a bit hot and muggy but the incline wasn’t bad. We hiked about 1/2 mile to get to the falls. We were next to a running creek most of the time as we headed for the waterfall. Sill Branch Falls is in the Cherokee National Forest between Erwin and Greeneville TN.

In this picture, we are headed back down the trail.IMG_20160604_144205884We were there after a fairly long dry spell but the waterfall was still beautiful!

IMG_20160604_144415480Find a nice flat rock and be sure to “dingle your toes in the water”. It’s what my grandma always used to say when we went to the lake!

IMG_20160604_144402765The water was refreshingly cold on a muggy day. I only wish I had packed a picnic lunch!

Here is Elijah stacking rocks. He’s a little over 6 feet tall if that gives you some perspective.

IMG_20160604_145626068We definitely want to go back…perhaps after a good rain! I’ve read that the falls are really impressive then.

Take some time this weekend and enjoy your family!

Do you have a favorite waterfall?

Blessings,

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Crusty Butts in Baby Goats – What you need to know about poop!

When you have baby goats (kids), normally the mama goat (doe) takes care of their health and cleanliness ….however, not all mama’s are that conscientious, especially during their first kidding when they are learning the ropes on how to be a mama. Sort of like us human mamas isn’t it?

Be sure to check on your baby goats several times a day.  When a kid begins to poop, the first few will be like black tar. “Oh joy! Meconium!” said.no.one.ever. If you are a mom, pause and remember those days! Once the baby begins nursing, their poop becomes yellow and very, very sticky….which can then become quite hard if the mama doesn’t keep her baby clean.

Normally the mama will clean up the backside of her babies while they are nursing. Every so often we get a mama who doesn’t do a good job in the beginning. Really…can you blame them? What a job….yuck!

This year we had two mamas out of 4 who (ahem!) neglected this aspect of motherhood! This was a first kidding (birth) for all of them. This meant frequent trips to the barn to clean those babies because this stuff dries hard as a rock and it is very hard to remove once dried. This can clog the anal opening….it actually seals it shut at times…and the baby can’t poop anymore. This can lead to serious health problems!

Here is a pictorial of what to do and how. If you find pictures of baby goat butts and poop offensive…probably time for you to move on 🙂

Here is a picture of a baby whose mama neglected her job.  We were gone all day and just in those few hours this had solidified on the backside and blocked the opening.IMG_20160401_162705637_HDRYou can’t just pull this off – it is attached to the skin and the hair and could possibly tear that tender skin…it would also be terribly painful for the baby. This feels like a rock when you touch it. It is imperative that you get this off as quickly as possible.

Normally, if you keep on top of things, a warm soapy rag will do the job easily. However, since we were gone all day, it had time to accumulate and then solidify. Yikes!

IMG_20160401_162723369_HDRAfter attempting to use a warm rag, I went back to the house for a bucket so I could keep applying the rag.  Oh! Just a warning…the baby will NOT cooperate with you and will scream bloody murder the entire time which will upset the entire herd, especially mama who will come try to make your job as difficult as possible help.  Just sayin!

IMG_20160401_171955595After multiple times of applying the warm and dripping rag, very little came off this poor baby. Sun was going down and breeze was picking up and I was getting concerned because it was cool and getting dark.  I began applying olive oil liberally all around and over the “rock” which helped a little bit. I finally decided to soak that little bum in the bucket!  This little one might not have agreed with my decision. Look at those ears!

IMG_20160401_161418445Note: they will not cooperate with this and Mama won’t like it either!

Let the baby soak in water for about 5 minutes before you begin trying to work that poop away from the skin and hair it is attached to. While the baby is soaking in the water, gently begin trying to pull that poop away from the skin and hair. Be VERY gentle.  I try grabbing the hair and pulling the hair from the rock rather than just tugging on the rock so it will be less painful for the little one. Work your way all around the poop and then begin again. Each time you should be able to get a little further under that hard poop.

IMG_20160401_161410959Every once in awhile, I pulled this little one out and liberally applied more olive oil – again working around the poop and working it into the hair and skin.  Little pieces of the poop will begin to separate – toss those as you get them loose! Keep working in the warm soapy water and applying the olive oil as needed.

One side will usually break free before the other!

IMG_20160401_163906469_HDRWhen the largest piece finally falls away, keep working at any residue in the hair or on the skin.  You want that opening completely free and clear.  Then I apply some Lavender essential oil diluted in FCO (fractionated coconut oil) to soothe the irritated skin!

When you are finished…this is how things should look! This entire process took me close to an hour.

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This “crusty” bum issue is short lived.  Once the babies begin eating solid food (grass, hay, grain), their poop becomes brown goat berries just like the adults and you can kiss this job good-bye…at least until the next kidding season!

Blessings,

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Sometimes life comes in a big yellow bucket…

So…let’s take a quick detour from talking about goats to taking about those little surprises in life that sometimes come in a big yellow bucket.

IMG_20160620_145746183Elijah stuck his head in the door yesterday…he looked a bit odd.  Actually, about half of his body was in the door but his arm was still outside…AND…he had that look…I think all mother’s of boys know that look.

“Mom! Come here I want to show you something!”  I was already half way to the door but I stopped dead in my tracks. I’ve lived on a farm with four boys WAY to long and have heard those words WAY to many times.

Let’s just pause a minute and add this up…

A boy…living on a farm… asks his Mom to “come see” while simultaneously hiding what he supposedly wants her to see…all the while wearing that look…

In my experience (listed in order of frequency), it usually adds up to: 1.A snake,  2. A giant hairy, creepy looking spider, 3. some horrific creepy crawly or  4. some other scary and terrible creature  that is living on our farm with us.         

Oh joy. Let the nightmares begin.

Then I heard it….very soft and gentle…”peep”…”peep”…and I found my feet moving again.

Elijah had been working in the barn when he heard that same sound…at first he thought it was the guinea birds outside but he began to slowly follow the sound..and he found this…IMG_20160620_145815435IMG_20160620_145724746

Isn’t this the cutest thing?!  An Ameraucana hen had gone missing and we thought the coyotes had gotten her…but she had “gone broody”, made a hidden nest in the barn, filled it with eggs and hatched out a nice little family of chicks!

Now… who was worried about snakes?  Not me 😉 sssshhhhhh!

Elijah scooped up the whole family…mama hen, babies, unhatched eggs and nest and relocated them to a safer environment where mama won’t have to worry about snakes, coons and other predators.

And, for a few minutes in the middle of a very busy day, we all got to feel that joy in our hearts when we are confronted with sweet new life…even if it comes in a big yellow bucket!

IMG_20160620_145708344Thank you Elijah!  I love this homestead life!

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Gardening Organically with Essential Oil!

Organic Gardening with Essential Oils and More!

essential-oils-1024x680Join  Bill and I this coming Tuesday night (June 21, 2016) at 6:00 pm at River of Praise Fellowship on Bernard Ave. in Greeneville to learn how to use essential oils to deter pests and disease in the garden while attracting pollinators!

We will also be covering many tips and tricks we have used over the years to reduce  pests and disease issues while increasing yields.

Learn several ways to have a large, abundant garden with VERY LITTLE WEEDING!

I (Cheri) am a Master Gardener and have been gardening organically for 17 years. You’ll learn how I started with a 12 foot square garden (with 12 plants in it!) and over the years increased that to a garden that encompasses several thousand  sq. feet!

You’ll hear about some of my hilarious mistakes and some amazing victories!

There will be a handout with recipes and, of course, there will be door prizes!

We hope to see you there!

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The scary thing about Caseous Lymphadenitis

According to the Merk Veterinary Manual, “Caseouslymphadenitis (CL) is a chronic, contagious disease caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. ”

CL causes abscesses to form in or near major peripheral lymph nodes. This is the external form of the disease which is found more commonly in goats.  CL can also form within internal organs and lymph nodes. This form is more commonly found in sheep.   CL is not considered a “curable” disease and can lead to death in both species.

CL penetrates the skin or mucous membranes.  An easy point of entry is any injury of the skin – goats playing with each other and nicking the skin, tangling with a barbed wire fence and getting a small scrape, an injection site etc. allows the bacteria to enter the animal if it comes into contact with a draining lesion. Something as simple as brushing up against each other in the barn can be fatal!  Infection can also happen from inhalation or ingestion of the bacteria although that method is less common.

Once the bacteria establishes contact through an open sore, it moves to the lymph nodes through the lymphatic system and then on to the internal organs.  The incubation period is from 1 to 3 months which ends with the development of an abscess in the external form. The internal form is harder to “see” but usually results in unexplained weight loss and a failure to thrive..  An animal can appear healthy with no outside signs if they are in the incubation period!

CL contaminates the environment on your homestead where you keep your goats or sheep.  It is spread through nasal discharge, coughing, and draining lesions. CL also has the ability to survive in the environment – hence the difficulty of eradicating it.   It can live in bedding and wood for 2 months and in the soil for up to 8 months. Organic material, shade and moisture help CL to survive  on your homestead.

Best prevention? Make sure you don’t bring animals home that have CL by requiring a long history of clean blood tests from the breeder your purchase your stock from. And remember, make sure those tests were done by WADDL.

I have personally experienced the scare of a false positive in one of my best does when a vet chose to send the blood she drew to a friend of hers who worked at a lab in Texas, although I specifically told her to use WADDL.  Her recommendation was to put my doe down quickly.  When I found out where she sent the test, I tracked down the gentleman who created the testing for CL.  His recommendation?  Have the blood redrawn and sent to WADDL.  I received a stern lecture from him about having the tests done anywhere else – he also told me NOT to put my doe down.  I did as he suggested and  the test came back negative!  Just imagine – I might have put down a beautiful doe for absolutely no reason.  I’m happy to say that Aprilla lived a very long and healthy life!

Although CL is most commonly considered a disease of goats and sheep, it can also affect horses, cows, swine, fowl and people.  PEOPLE! Yes, CL is zoonotic.  If you have it in your herd, do not drink your milk raw, do not come into contact with draining lesions etc. Isolate the infected animals and begin to take steps to eradicate this from your homestead! Remove and safely dispose of bedding and anything else removable that your animals has been in contact with.  Use bleach to clean feeding troughs, watering systems etc. Best course of action is to cull infected animals immediately and to continue testing the rest of your herd to keep on top of things.

Obviously, when you purchase animals, you should also be looking for swelling in the lymph areas, lesions (the neck is a common area for swelling and lesions in goats), coughing, runny noses.  Never buy a goat or kid that exhibits these symptoms or any illness for that matter!

It is best to purchase one healthy animal at a time and pay a little more than to look for “a deal” and purchase a “starter herd” for a better price that might not be as healthy.  The benefit in the long run for your animal’s health, the bio-security of your homestead and most importantly for your family’s health is priceless!

Blessings,

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The trouble with goats…

I love having goats on our homestead.  I love the spring babies, I enjoy milking the mama goats and I really enjoy using the milk to make cheese and soap. However, goats can be a bit of trouble in a variety of ways and I want you to be prepared.  It’s best to know the good, the bad and the scary!IMG_20160330_091218677

I never want to mislead you with the “be a homesteader” magazine cover stories…you know the ones…where the owners are sipping tea in their Adirondack chairs with all the barns mucked, the animals perky and clean (there is never any poop in these photos…isn’t that just amazing!), the pastures are covered with perfect square bales and the garden beds are in straight rows producing abundantly with nary a weed in sight! I firmly believe that 682 people probably worked for 5 days to create that one photo…which only lasted 7.2 seconds!

So let’s talk about keeping goats on your homestead.  I’ll dispel some myths and hopefully share some useful information that will help you in your own goat keeping adventures…and believe me it will be an adventure!

Goats will not eat every thing.  Although you need to keep trash out of your goat pasture, the cartoon versions of goats eating tin cans, old boots etc. are just silly. In 15 years of having goats, none of them have eaten anything weird. They will, however, get into grain and eat themselves to death…literally. They will eat until they bloat and if you don’t know what to do at that point (quickly call a vet if you don’t!) they will most likely die. It is very important that grain is kept in a locked room or locked can that goats can not worm their way into. And they are famous for being able to get into just about everything!  They can use their lips and tongue like fingers…you just won’t believe what we have seen over the years!

Caprine Arthritic Encephalitis also known as CAE is a retrovirus that passes from mother to kid at birth or during the exchange of body fluids – like nursing. A retrovirus can actually insert itself into the DNA making it hard for the immune system to find it. When a goat kid is infected, encephalitis develops with very little warning which causes seizures that can quickly kill the little one. Adult goats can have no symptoms at all…however when it does present, the symptoms are knobby swollen knees that are very painful. Their udders can become hard even when they aren’t in milk.  Their milk productions will decrease up to 25% and they can also develop pneumonia.

Once a goat is infected with CAE that goat is infected for life.

When I first began keeping goats CAE was considered zoonotic – something that could be transfered to humans through contact with bodily fluids… such as drinking unpasturized milk from an infected animal.  Now I read that there is no proof that it can be spread to humans. Interesting….I think I will error on the side of caution and continue to act as if it is possible.

There is no treatment for CAE so your best course of action is preventative.  We drink our goat milk raw (no pasturization) so this is very important! To do this, I started with a breeder that had 15 years of blood tests showing negative results in their entire herd. It is possible to have false negatives however I felt comfortable that with 15 years of testing behind them, the results were bound to be accurate. Goats must be at least 8 months old to be tested.  There is only one lab that I recommend for testing and that is WADDL – Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab at Washington State University.

Another thing I do to prevent CAE in our herd is to keep a closed herd.  I don’t bring new goats in very frequently and I don’t loan bucks out or allow them to be used for stud service.  I don’t travel with our goats and I don’t show our goats. No goats are allowed to visit our homestead. All sales are final.  Once they leave our homestead, they do not return. Once our herd arrived, it only changed by new births each spring.  Every few years, I will return to our original place of purchase to buy a new buck. If you come to visit and you have your own homestead with animals, you will have to walk through a bleach/water solution to visit our barn. If you have goats, you probably won’t be visiting our barn. It’s just not worth the risk.

When I began my search for goats, I could not find a herd locally that was not infected.  Or perhaps they had goats but had never had any of them tested. I finally found a breeder on the coast of North Carolina. I am sure there are others, but be prepared to travel to find  healthy goats to start your herd.

Next time we’ll talk about Caseous Lymphadenitis.

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All about goats! The good, the bad and the scary!

We’ve had goats almost non-stop for 17 years! You have to admit that goat babies are the cutest babies on the farm!  Take a look! Is this first little one not the cutest thing you’ve seen today?

IMG_20160405_075502620My boys used to call these airplane ears!

IMG_20160404_173101341 IMG_20160404_173121386Early morning sunbeams caught everyone still sleeping.

Oh! yes…that is a cat in the middle of the kids – she thinks she is a baby goat

…ssshhhh….don’t tell herIMG_20160409_110748553_HDRFree for all – little ones are playing together all.the.time!IMG_20160410_072203505_TOP

King of the Hill is their favorite game!IMG_20160410_072304408Waiting for the barn door to open!

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Fighting for first place in the milk line!

IMG_20160403_074433251What does the Farmer have for me today?

IMG_20160405_075249623But along with all of the cuteness, there are things you need to be watching for BEFORE you purchase your goats or drink milk from the ones you may already have! Next time we’ll talk about those things from CAE to CL to crusty butt!

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