Thursday, December 8, 2011

The New Still Waters Farm

Moving a farm to a new state is quite an undertaking.  Here is one of my little helpers spreading shavings in the stalls we built in our new barn.  It is so nice to work out of the elements!
Here are the doelings I'm raising for next year.  I didn't want to breed too many until I learned what kind of market there are for Mini Nubians here in Indiana.  Plus I want to start milk testing - milking five is probably four too many!
Our new farm has an old fashioned milk room.  It has a concrete tub in the floor where they used to cool the milk and a hand pump.  I love these connections to the past!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Family Tradition

Well raising dairy goats pretty much skipped a generation (well my uncle gave it a go too), but it is in our blood.  Here are some vintage photos we unearthed of my great grandparents, grandmother and great-aunt with their goats.  I know breeders love to see old photos and compare the goats of yesteryear to those of today...

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Pal Robin

The moment my first kid hit the ground, I was hooked on goats!
They aren't horses, but they are still very pretty!

Birdie had one nice growthy buckling, Robin.

I knew I couldn't sell this kid, so I bought a doeling to breed him to, Lily.

I used Robin for four years.  Never did get a doeling out of him and Lily. 
I got pretty daughters out of his other "wife", Chinaberry though.

Last year I bred him back to Birdie, and now I have this lovely wether named Jacob.
Birdie and Robin are grade Nubians.  They have something in them that makes them smaller
than most purebred Nubians.  I like their smaller size.  Wish I knew what it was that makes them smaller.
Breeding Mini Nubians by crossing Nigerian Dwarf goats with Nubians,
doesn't get this kind of breed character. 
I sold both Robin's "wives" and didn't need to use him this year.
So happy trails, ol' pal!

Friday, October 7, 2011


Traded Cupid for a new Nubian buck last night.  This guy is a giant compared to anything I've ever had!  He's is definately going to be bigger than our grade buck Robin.  Robin is 5 this year.  He's lightweight.  Only thing that has grown on him is his neck!  But that's ok, he's pretty :)  Stinky, but pretty...


Getting to know each other... obsessively....

Yeah, we love you, but no kisses!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I was shocked today to read advice on the internet that one must put the welfare of animals above "everything else". I hope this was hyperbole, but I fear there are people out there that feel exactly that. In the Torah (the Bible), we have a law that we must feed our animals before we feed ourselves, but we would not go so far as to say the welfare of animals must be placed everything else. There are limits. There are legitimate distractions. Is the care of children, the disabled, the elderly not a legitimate distraction?

My goats sustained my disabled child when he could take no other nourishment. For that I am grateful, and I do my best by my goats. But no, their welfare does not come before the welfare of my family. I believe what that Torah law implies is that we understand that domesticated livestock are totally dependent on our care. We do not make them suffer and wait for their basic needs to be met while we attend to our own comfort. Beyond that I think we each have to determine the best way to serve our goats. For one that may mean a great deal of hands on care, for another that may mean selectively breeding hardy animals that can live happily with less hands on attention. To me there is an element of cruelty to breeding goats that cannot kid without assistance or mother their young. I question the wisdom of breeding animals that can't survive the demands of the climate or live off local feed stuff. These are the questions we must ask and answer for ourselves.

There are different animals for different purposes. I once took in a Thoroughbred to live with my Quater Horse. The poor thing was miserable as a backyard horse. He didn't know what do to with himself. While my Quarter Horse was completely content, to graze or munch a round bale and live in a run in shed, this Thoroughbred was used to a stall, more concentrated meals, and more work. In the end I had to pass him down to a family that could provide him with the lifestyle he preferred. It would be useless for me to give management tips to a Thoroughbred racing farm, while the management there would be completely inappropriate for a barefoot backyard pony. So when you look for advice on goat raising topics, I think you have to throw alot of salt around. What some feel is absolutely necessary may or may not be applicable to what you are trying to accomplish.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Rough Summer

It has been a rough summer here at Still Waters Farm.  Texas is having one of the worst droughts on record with record triple digit temperatures.  We have no pasture left.  All our livestock are on dry lots and are eating hay.  Gracias a Dios!  We have been able to get hay.  I'm hopeful maybe we can have another rye grass pasture this winter, but we'll have to see.  I has been harder to sell surplus kids this year, and I suspect the drought and economy have alot to do with it.  The classifieds are bursting with animals folks are unloading.  I did however manage to sell enough to bankroll the aquistion of 3 new Nigerian Dwarf bucks, and 3 new Nubian does.  I forge ahead!

I've spent alot of time contemplating the direction of my Mini Nubian herd.  I've been considering which goals are vanity goals and which are truly important.  For example, is it really desirable to have goats with high production if they overproduce - that is produce more than a set of kids can use?  Or is it better to have goats that produce less but are lower maintence?  What are these goats to be used for?  What is the market I wish to serve?  What are the needs of the market?  What are my needs?

I've been thinking about:
Numbers, Herd Reduction
Feed conversion
Housing needs
Milk testing

In future weeks, I plan to update the website with our goals or mission statement and updated photographs of the herd.  Breeding season is here, and it is time to decide who to breed to whom.  A breeding plan will also be put up.  Farming is a hopeful occupation, even when things are rough, we continue to believe it will be better next year.

Monday, May 16, 2011

2nd Generation Buckling - $150

Sire: Eddy Place Nosey (5th Generation)
Dam: Ordered Steps Annie (1st Generation)
Born: April 27

email for more information

Monday, May 2, 2011

New Herd Sires

I'm bringing in some new bloodlines this year.  Alot of us in Texas are working with animals from the same original crosses.  I think we are going to need infusions of new crosses as there haven't been enough made yet (in my humble opinion).  So I am hunting down really excellent stock for the first crosses, using goat math.  Goat math is this - sell two cheap goats, buy one better goat.  When you see someone who has really pricey goats and you wonder how in the world they can afford it, I believe Goat Math is how.  Each year using goat math I try to bring in better bloodlines.  HOWEVER, you also learn over time working with bloodlines what you like.  Some of my original animals are still some of my favorites with characteristics that I do not always find elsewhere.  Here are two yearling bucks that I brought home a couple weeks ago from Pine Shadows.  They are just fabulous.  I went for Wildheart, but when I got Swashbuckler home, I wasn't sure that I didn't like him the best.  They are half brothers, and both very nice.  Pedigrees here for now:
Wild Heart

Pine Shadows JJ Swashbuckler (formerly Red Ryder)

Broody Hen

One of my newer Barred Rock hens decided to go broody.  She was very diligent.  Every night I would go to get the eggs, and she would be sitting on them.  She was very irritated whenever I would take them.  So after a couple weeks, I decided to let her try to sit some.  I turned our dog house into a brooder.  (The dog is sleeping in the kid's playhouse anyway.)  After six days, I went out there, and she had just up and left.  It had been several hours, so I was worried the embryos would have died.  But I went and fetched her - she was back in the old coop sitting on the day's eggs.  I told her to get back on the eggs.  She settled in and sat for two more weeks.  Went out to peak at her Sat morning and wonder of wonders, there were 10 baby chicks under her.  Only two eggs did not make it.  I understand this to be an excellent hatch rate.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Farm Girl!

Our oldest child is six now, and wow, that's so much more than five!  She's been taking some responsibility with the goats.  She is Marcie's "mom" and bottle feeds her twice a day.  Yesterday she helped me catch Black Beauty - quite a big goat for a little girl.  She was so proud and so was I!  I don't usually put pictures of my kids (the human ones) on the internet, but can't resist with this one...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bittersweet Good Byes

One of the hardest parts of goat raising is knowing you can't keep them all. This week I decided to pass our Alpine-Nubian cross doe Lily on to another family. Lily was my third goat . She has been a good milker that provided my human babies with many glasses of wholesome milk. We brought her up from South Texas. We did not always have an easy relationship. As a kid she was decidedly wild and very fast. Even in a tiny pen, she was hard to catch. The first year her teats were so tiny and hard to milk, I felt like crying at milking time. She jumped around like crazy and tipped the bucket many times! But eventually she settled into her job. Her teats elongated and became easier to milk, and she learned to stand. If you bring food, she'll come to you without issue. Without food, well, that's just a matter of her whims! She was a good learning experience, and that is why I felt she would be a good fit for this other family who is just starting out with goats. I highly recommend that anyone looking into getting started with goats try hard to find a fully grown goat at has been milked before. It's not easy to find, and I wish I had one to sell every person that calls! But if you can find a goat like this to learn on, you'll never regret it!

Friday, February 18, 2011


This is Marcie, Betty's Baby's baby.  She weighs 2 lbs 11 oz!  That's one tiny little lady!  She's in the house being bottle raised, so that she doesn't have to compete with her brothers for milk.  She's a scrapper with a good appetite.

We have had 5 kids born this February out of does we bought bred from Eddy's Goat Place.  So their names will be "Eddy Place Marcie" etc.  They are all 4th generation.  You can see more kid photos here.

Angelia Mercer

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Cautionary Tale - Giving Injections

Scary moment this evening - I've been at the vet several times in the past few weeks due to trouble with parasites. In a climate like Texas worms and coccidiosis can be an issue even in the winter. Stress due to unusually harsh weather can reduce a goat's resistance to parasites. Having to stay huddled together is stressful - not as healthy as getting out and exercising. We see this in our human populations as well. When large numbers of people congregate in buildings in the winter, they share all kinds of germs.

On with the cautionary tale, so tonight I was out administering a coccidiosis treatment to the herd, and I noticed one of my nursing does appeared pretty anemic (pale pink eyelids). I decided to give her a SubQ (under the skin) injection of iron & B-complex. I gave her the injection and moved on to the next pen, and drenched two more goats. As I was straightening up, I heard the injected doe scream - yes, goats can scream; it is a very distinctive sound. I started running and saw the doe drop to the ground. I ran to the house where we keep an epi-pen. When I reached the doe, her eyelids were *white*, and her breathing was labored. But her head was up. I was reluctant to use the epi-pen as it is really on hand for the humans in the house. I decided to try some nutri-drench. When I got back from the house with the drench, she was up eating some hay. When I gave her the drench, she went nuts over it and was sucking at the pump wanting more. I gave her ten to fifteen pumps. Then I brought out minerals mixed with herbal dewormer, and all the goats including the shocky goat went crazy for it. I remembered that the warming herbs, especially the cayenne pepper were good for shock. Hubby brought home a bottle of children's Benadryl, and she got a dose of that too. She appears to be recovered, but I was quite shaken.

There are drawbacks to any administration method of medicines and supplements. Placing the med in the water or food is the safest, but it is hard to make sure the animal gets the right dose. Pills can cause choking (it's best to use a balling gun). Drenches can be aspirated into the lungs, and very weak animals may be reluctant or unable to swallow them. And injections can cause anaphylactic shock. ANY injection - even a vitamin shot! For this reason it is important to have epinephrine on hand (on you, not in the house or barn) any time you give an injection. Some goat producers have expressed that their vets did not want to give them this essential medication. Other products may be of use - Benadryl, cayenne pepper, Nutri-drench or propylene glycol (delivers an easily assimilated source of energy), and epinephrine OTC inhalers. All these products require that the animal be breathing and/or able to swallow. The goal is to return the blood pressure to normal - in shock, it is low. And of course keep the airway open! 

I have learned that the B-complex and iron can be used orally.  Our vet said that the thiamine can cause trouble, and he had a pig drop dead on him one time after a vitamin injection, so he is wary of using them.

I have been doing a lot of research lately into various herbs that have the potential to support the health of our goats (& ourselves). I did not find herbs to be an adequate replacement for chemical deworming products. I do, however, feel that a different approach is in order - one that views herbs as an nutritional adjunct that can improve parasite resistance & reduce the need for harsh chemical medications. Futhermore they can potentially help the goats heal from the insult caused by the worms; something that chemical dewormers do not do. In coming posts, I hope to share my findings. Take care! Angelia Mercer

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow Day at Still Waters Farm!

Here in East Texas we have had 2 snowfalls so far, which is rather unusual.  This week we had several days below freezing in a row which almost never happens.  We tend to measure freezes in hours not days!  It raises some special challenges for livestock raising.  The animals must be bedded down well out of the wind, water has to keep flowing through the hoses, and the troughs have to be cleared of ice so everyone can get a drink.  The reward for all this extra work is the beautiful view!!  Enjoy!
Angelia Mercer

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Still Waters Farm Updates

Here on Still Waters Farm we are busy as always.  I wanted to draw your attention to a few changes on the website.  If you look at the top bar, you will see our Breeding Plan . This has been updated to reflect the current status of our herd.  I purchased several new Mini Nubians this fall, and they are bred.  You can also check out the Ordered Steps Ranch page.  There you will find Mini Nubians that are for sale at farm that is not far from us.  If you are looking to start a herd or add to the one you've got, I encourage you to take a look!

We have 4 kids on the farm that were born this January.  Chinaberry has a lovely blue eyed set of 1st generation kids (75/25) - one boy and one girl.  And Lily has had another set of full size dairy bucklings (I've given up on her ever having doelings - these are boys 5 and 6).   Both of these does were bred to Robin.  We have 2 does expected to kid in February, and more due in March and April.  Baby photos are up!

We also had a snow here which is somewhat unusual, and I got some fabulous photos I would like to share, so keep checking back!

Angelia Mercer

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What in the World is Homesteading

I was a big fan of using the term "homesteading" until I realized many people have no idea what it means and can come up with some pretty mixed up, twisted definitions, so I fell off from using it much.  I wanted to clarify the definition.  No, if someone claims to be be a "homesteader", to have a "homestead", or to have a dream of "homesteading", that doesn't mean that they are necessarily some eco-extremist with dreams of living "off the grid" and talks of using reusable toilet paper.  Yes, there are folks like that out there, but that is not what I am thinking of when I refer to homesteading.  Countryside Magazine has the best definition for homesteading in my opinion:

"Our Philosophy: It's not a single idea, but many ideas and attitudes, including a reverence for nature and a preference for country life; a desire for maximum personal self-reliance and creative leisure; a concern for family nurture and community cohesion; a belief that the primary reward of work should be well-being rather than money; a certain nostalgia for the supposed simplicities of the past and an anxiety about the technological and bureaucratic complexities of the present and the future; and a taste for the plain and functional.  Countryside reflects and supports the simple life, and calls its practitioners homesteaders."

Basically, homesteading is a pragmatic term - we like the country, we like country stuff, we like oldies but goodies and new technology when it helps and doesn't hurt.  It is not a political movement nor is it a religious movement, though many country folk are religious - it's hard to live in the country and not see God.  Homesteading is a lifestyle choice.  Some homesteaders make a living off their homesteads, while others (like ourselves) are hobby farmers.  Like all lifestyle choices, there are trade offs.  There are days when I think I could be quite happy in a subdivision house in town.  There would be alot less work to do, alot more free time.  But generally I view the benefits of country life as outweighing the negatives both for myself and for my family.

If you are interested in learning more about homesteading, I encourage you to take a look at Countryside MagazineCountryside is written for the readers, by the readers.  As such it reads like a conversation, rather than a how to manual.  Mother Earth News is another magazine that often comes up with the topic of homesteading.  I can't in good conscious recommend it however.  There is a pretty solid liberal social and environmental agenda associated with that magazine.  If you go for that sort of thing, then you may like it.  Hobby Farms and Mary Janes Farm are other popular magazines - I have not personally checked them out.

When I have the time, I enjoy sharing what I am learning about small scale livestock raising and other country hobbies.  If you enjoy my writing, you can follow me on blogger, subscribe to my facebook page Still Waters Farm - Angelia Mercer, or get my tweets.  I also hope to publish more articles through Countryside Magazine in the future.  Thank you for letting me be a part of your country adventures!  Angelia Mercer

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Redwing Blackbirds

The redwing blackbirds migrated through today.  It was quite a sight.  Millions and millions (that's what it seemed like; I have no actual idea how many) birds landed on our pasture and pond.  I tried to get close enough to get some photos.  Thankfully, no doo-doo on the head.  Actually it kind of amazes me that that many birds move through, and the place isn't covered with droppings.  They do move very quickly though.  The descend in mass and rise and mass and fly a stones throw, and then descend again.
Redwing Blackbirds