Tuesday, May 29


People I meet in my day job are often surprised to learn my wife and I raise and show goats.  There's a pretty strong negative stereotype associated with goats.  I can assure you it's all wrong, at least for our goats.

Goats are very intelligent animals.  As with other domesticated animals they are a product of their handling and care.  Our goats happen to be very well cared for and as a result are healthy and affectionate creatures.  Our goats, for the most part, love to be around people and seek out human contact to have that hard to reach spot scratched or to lean against.  There are a few stubborn individuals that don't but they each have their own personality.

We show the goats as a part of a marketing plan to get exposure and spread our name.  For those not initiated in livestock showing the point of showing, besides it being fun, is to demonstrate the quality of the genetics of your animals.  The payback comes from the intrinsic value of the animal or it's offspring.  Just like with other products the laws of supply and demand come in the play.  We control the supply through our breeding program and hopefully create the demand with success in the show ring.

I was updating our Harmony Hill Boer Goats website with the latest photos and I was struck by the progression, growth, and beauty of our not-so-little buck, Harmony Hill Gunslinger.  Check out the growth from show to show:

May 2011

July 2011

October 2011

May 2012

Saturday, May 26


We upgraded the rig this year for the goat show season.  Jennifer has been doing outstanding on the goat show circuit.  We are looking forward to nationals this year in Duncan, OK!  Our herd sire, affectionately named "Stink," has received his sire of merit and as of this weekend his progeny have earned enough for him to be ennobled (by our current calculations).  To those not in the goat world it's a pretty high achievement.  It's even more special because all the points towards his ennoblement have come from animals we have raised (minus one) and all of the animals were bred live-cover, not artificially inseminated.

We started having truck trouble with our 2004 F-350 about the time we purchased a new trailer (classic injector failure).  To maintain peace of mine and keep Jennifer rolling in style we also purchased a new truck. First a little on the new the trailer:

We purchased a 2012 Bison Trail Hand 310TH from Midway Trailer in Illinois.  It's a 3 horse slant with a 10' short wall living quarters.

The living quarters is a fully furnished home away from home.  The photo above is from the bathroom door forward.  It has a couch that folds down into another bed and we placed a queen-sized mattress on the upper deck.  It's equipped with a AC and heat, a double sink, a gas range and hood, a microwave, a freezer and fridge, water heater, and a full bath with shower and separate toilet.  A lot of the lower-end trailers will have a combo shower-toilet with the toilet in the shower, not something Jennifer or I were a fan of.  It's got an stereo system with indoor and out door speakers as well as an awning that extends out from the side of the trailer.

The Bison Trail Hand is a great trailer targeted towards that entry-level market.  It's only 7' wide so it does make for a cozy environment but so far it's been a real pleasure to use.  Jennifer is able to park near the goats and quickly retire to a hot shower and air conditioning when she's done for the day.

The Trail Hand has an aluminum skin over a steel frame, which makes for a fairly heavy load when you add goats, show equipment, and 35 gallons of freshwater.  The new truck, a 2012 Ford F350, is getting 12 miles to the gallon when pulling it.  The only things I would change about the trailer is perhaps look for a wider model and more RV style holding tank configuration (like an inlet to clean out the black water tank properly).

The 2012 F350 is the second year for the newest diesel engine of Ford which changed to a 6.7 liter PowerStroke diesel engine with a center mounted turbo.  This truck is so much quieter than the 6.0 you can easily forget it's a diesel, that is until you need to pull something.  The advertised specs are 400 horsepower and 800 ft/lbs of torque.  I'm pretty sure that's plenty for our application.

When not pulling the 27' gooseneck trailer the truck averages around 18 mpg on general driving and we've gotten as high as 20 mpg on long unloaded trips.  The truck is a geeks playground with all kinds of computerized options with a big bright instrument panel that shows you thinks like your instant fuel mileage, a graph of the last several minutes of mpg, the angle of the truck on two axis, the temperature of the transmission oil and engine oil, the gain settings on your trailer brake controller and more.  Plus it has the Ford Sync system that allows us to use our iPhones hands free and to stream music to the stereo.  It has many other features too that I don't use as much such as turn by turn directions as well as a vehicle health report.

One new thing to get used to having a diesel particulate filter (DPF) system and having to fill it with diesel exhaust fluid (DEF).  The first fill from the dealership lasted about 5000 miles.  When I first mentioned DEF to my boss he thought I was kidding and making up something like "blinker fluid."

The new truck of course comes with a warranty which means pieces of mind for both Jennifer and I, especially since she's pulling the big trailer on some pretty long hauls.  That plus the comfort of having a home away from home with her wherever she goes lets her focus on the goats while at the shows instead of shuffling between the show ground and unknown hotels in different parts of town.

135 Hours Later

It has certainly been more than 135 hours since I last posted anything substantial.  In fact, it's been nearly a year since my last post.  Back in April 2011 I posted about our new tractor, a Kioti DK40SE and wanted to give some follow-up thoughts after 135 hours on the tractor.

In short, this is a great little tractor.  It has done every job we threw at it quite well.  The largest amount of run time has probably been brush hogging, of which we do a few times a year.  The 6' cutter takes quite a few passes to knock down the 7 or so acres we maintain with it.  Behind that is probably moving round bales, as shown above.  The loader on this tractor is plenty strong.  I am considering adding fluid to the rear tires in order to get more ballast weight, but it's quick enough to put a bale on the rear with the rear bale spike.  With the proper rear weight it's no problem to unload double stacked round bales off a flat bed.

The driveway has stayed in good order, or at least it does when I spend the time to grade it.  I've graded the drive 3 or 4 times and put a smooth surface on it with ease.  It is probably time to add material though before I do it again.

After a little over a year of owning this tractor I can say I think it was one of the best investments we have made on the farm.