About the Milkman

Daryl Mast’s Doorstep Dairy is another fine example of folks getting back to their roots. In just a short time, he’s managed to develop a loyal following of satisfied customers.

Doorstep Dairy supplies a variety of goods that all originate from within a 10-mile radius of Daryl’s home. Daryl then gets those fresh, local products to customers for a nominal delivery fee….and more customers are signing up daily.

Chocolate milk bottle -- minus the milk

Oh, and then there’s the milk. The delicious milk. In glass bottles.

Daryl sent me home with a quart of chocolate milk the day of our video shoot. I had planned to take a photo of it for this blog entry—but it was gone by the time I pulled into the driveway.

Life moves fast. Maybe we’ve reached a point where we desire the nostalgia, heritage, and quality of a time that moved at a different pace. Bringing back the milkman is certainly a step in that direction and I couldn’t be happier!

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The Milkman Returns

In this webisode, join Tracy to meet Daryl Mast of the Doorstep Dairy — a man on a mission to make home delivery of fresh locally-made dairy products a new reality for residents in his area.

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Tail Docking

Okay, here goes.

There are two schools of thought on tail docking or removing the tail of a lamb. School # 1 says it’s not humane. I am not of this school. So, let’s move on to School # 2.

Tail with band applied

A Navajo-Churro lamb tail is very long at birth. If left alone, the tail as well as the wool in that area would collect poop. In warmer months, flies would swarm at the back-end of the animal and lay eggs. Maggots would, first, eat at the poop and then at the sheep. ‘Nuff said regarding “Flystrike.”

Elastrator and bands in jar of alcohol

So how to remove a tail as painlessly as possible? Two schools again. I’ll let you guess what School # 1 is so let’s move on to School # 2: the Elastrator or “band.”

It has taken me four years of lambing and, thus, banding to reach my conclusion that banding must be done on day two.

I believe the day a lamb is born is a critical day of bonding and allowing the lamb to get necessary colostrum from mom is very important—not to mention “finding its feet.”

Day Two, the lamb has filled out physically and by Day Three of life, I believe the tail has become thicker and, possibly, more sensitive.

Once, I unknowlingly waited for days before banding a pair and watched in horror as they both flopped around in pain. I cried, standing there helplessly, thinking I’d surely killed them both. They recovered; I never forgot. Therefore, I band on the second day of life and haven’t experienced another incident like that.

Elastrator and band

The banding tool stretches a thick green rubber band that allows one to travel up the tail, position, then release the band. I prefer to leave at least 1-1/2 inches of the tail and not go any higher than the two gentle folds of skin which are on the underside of the tail.

Believe me, the lamb realizes what has just occurred. However, the reaction I generally witness, if done at the “right” time, is a flurry of their tails as if trying to shake the band off (it usually falls off in one to three weeks). Almost 99 percent of the time, they go straight to mom’s udder and have a drink. Probably not a bad idea.

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“Rejection” Update

Tate and his sister

It’s been ten days since our littlest guy began his bottle feedings. In the beginning, I had to lift him to a standing position so that he’d feed (as if he was nursing from mom) and when finished, he’d find his spot, curl up, and  lie down again. I’ll admit: I had my doubts he’d make it.

Tate has since graduated from drinking a half cup of replacer at each feeding to almost a full cup. He’s still relatively small in stature compared to the other lambs his age and his actions are a bit tentative. However, his feedings in the morning are quite aggressive—a good sign that his strength is building (slowly, but increasing).

We have been careful to watch momma Brownie as well. It’s still a mystery as to why she rejected him in the first place. Our good friend and fellow Churro breeder, Linda Cummings, suggested we keep Brownie under close supervision because apparently these situations have been known to become violent. In this case, I suppose it’s a good thing Brownie wants nothing to do with Tate.

Oh, don’t worry though–he’s getting plenty of love and attention from us and from his sister. Churro siblings seem to instantly bond. She is as playful and as loving as she can be. In a week to ten days, everyone will be out on pasture and in one, big, happy flock so he’ll have lots of support from the other 16 newbies!

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It’s Maple Syrup Time on the Hobby Farm

Join Tracy, David and the kids in this webisode as they tap maple trees, collect sap, and prepare for processing sap into maple syrup.

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Brownie (named for her caramel color) is one of our most affectionate, sweet, and lovable ewes. She had a single lamb last year—a little brown girl, Friday. She twinned this year: the first, a little brown girl and the second a little white boy.

One of the first signs you look for in newborns, once they’re on their feet (which is normally minutes after being cleaned by their moms) is whether they’ve latched on to mom’s udder. The first pulls provide the colostrum from momma which is essential to getting baby off to a healthy start. Imagine our surprise when Brownie would not let either baby latch on, especially the little white ram-lamb. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to watch a wobbly little newborn attempt to bond and the mom keeps inching away or turning from the baby.

Some say rejection can be rooted in the baby’s color. I don’t know if it was the case here but I’m suspecting it might play a part in her rejecting the little white ram-lamb. Brownie nuzzles him and will answer him…sometimes (other moms will call out immediately to newborns) but her attitude just seems different with the little brown girl.

Yesterday, we brought him in the house. He appeared so weak and thin and cold all of a sudden; it’s amazing how quickly they can slide downhill.

We placed him in a towel, under a heating blanket on “high” and held him for hours while giving him Purina’s “Kid Milk Replacer” with a syringe. It is a powder formula you mix with hot water– specifically for livestock babies.

After five hours inside, offering replacer and warm water, he appeared a little more energetic so we took him back out to momma’s stall. She seemed genuinely happy to see him. Nevertheless, we’ll keep a watchful eye on him, keep the replacer coming at prescribed intervals (he drank a full “dose” this morning!) and, of course, bring him to cuddle on the couch….often.

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How to collect soil samples for testing

Join Tracy and David in the garden as they collect soil samples for testing.

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