We just got 2 rabbits that match our cats color wise. They are meat rabbits so they are going to get 30 plus pounds. If they work out we may have rabbit meat next year which is delicious. For now we have them in the house and they use puppy wee pads to pee on. They are only 6 weeks old now. I have lost my couch to my rabbit that I call Pedro and my cat. We don't have a name for the black one yet. They are so fun and cute. We got them at the Fall Homesteading Fair at good earth garden center from the good people at www.RiseandShineRabbitry.com . They were so generous and helpful to new rabbit owners. They also teach raising and processing if you want to go that route.
I'm not saying there is a wrong way but just wanted to share how we do it. It's not a "easy" process but we take extra steps that make it harder on us though it ensures clean milk.
First lets start with the goat
Luckily goats stay pretty clean anyway and this may be over kill. I like the feel of a freshly shaved goat. I use the Whal hair trimmers you can find at Walmart. I like the adjustable kind where i can use no guard but extend the lever about half way and trim about halfway of the under belly to the "bum" of the goat. All of this is a big help in both keeping hair out of the buckets and easier to clean that udder.
I have a cure for those hairy stray teats that like to divert the milk stream to your pants.
They are simple nose trimmers. I use the green one above and you can get one for $4 after shipping on ebay. They are gentle and don't leave cuts or nicks on the teats.
Now to the goat kit. It's a simple tool box that I can bring inside during the winter so it don't freeze. I start with a clean rag and a spray bottle of soapy water and give her a good scrub. Then I pull a couple of unscented wet wipes and put a good amount of Purell on it and give a second scrubbing concentrating on the teats. This is also good to help sterilize your hands. Next is a "strip" bucket I leave out to get a good 4 to 5 first squeezes to get that first "dirty" stream out.
Now I'm ready to milk. A few modifications I made to our milk bucket though.
We put 2 frozen Avian water bottles in the bucket. The goats milk comes out sterile and its how you handle it keeps it sterile. The colder you can get it the fastest is the best and you can put those water bottles in the dish washer after you strain the milk.
I also went to Home Depot and bought that steal looking non rusting screen that I cut and form fitted to the top of the bucket to catch any hairs or bugs that may try to get in there. (dishwasher safe also) I top the bucket off with a heavy dinner plate when I set the milk bucket aside. When I'm done milking, the bucket goes straight in the freezer while the goats finish their meal at the stanchions. I take the milk out and put it in the fridge just before it starts to freeze.
After milking you want to sterilize the teats as the last step. Some people use Fight Bac in a can but I been using Purell for years.
Above can be your worst enemy. Just like us, goats don't like flies landing on their legs. Most goats don't stomp high enough but if you get a sensitive goat, a little fly spray on the back of their legs helps. Just keep that milk bucket covered and a good distance. Now for butthole goats that give you a hard time like the one pictured at the top it took me years to figure her out. Nothing makes you more mad then when a goat "kicks the bucket." She would put her hove in the bucket and even lay down in it making all that work useless. After years I finally figured her out. All it took was my head pressed in her side. When I would feel her twitch I would give her a nudge knocking her off balance and when she would lean into my head the other direction I would let up and this method worked great. And if all else fails, thump them like a read headed step child :p no offence to gingers :p
Now the last steps. Filter the milk and we put it in glass Ball jars (4 equals a gallon) Then we to back out and kick the goats :p It depends on what type of goats you have how long it will last before it gets a goaty taste. A good supplement that grows fast is Zucchini and Squash. They love it. Just don't feed moldy hay. While it wont hurt them it will give them the Hershey squirts :p
When kidding season comes, be sure to shave that belly, udder, bum, and tail or you will have a long time sticky mess.
This time we decided to just wing it and ended up at Mirror Lake. We like to go at the beginning of the season both beginning and end since the cold makes for less people at the sites. The problem with that is it's crazy cold at 11,000 feet high. Almost to tree line. We woke to frost covering everything each morning yet our faces got sunburned. (something I never had an issue with in 22 years of camping) and we toughed it out in a tent.
Now here is where I got a little stupid. Most maps will tell you if its a 4wd road or a high clearance 4wd road. This one did not. We were the only ones on that road that wasn't on an ATV. It was roughly 10 miles and I couldn't go faster than 5 mph. I had to evaluate each boulder to decide which one was better to roll my tires over yet I bottomed out 7 times making me get out and check that no fluids were punctured an leaking. I have never seen a road like that before and most of it was single lane. Second mistake... after making it half way through the highway of hell It dawned on us that we left with a full tank of gas and never stopped to get more. We were down to 1/4 tank of gas not knowing how far the next gas station was but we did know it was too late to turn around. We had to use low 4wd which i knew was using more gas than usual. I really thought a hitch hike was in our future. Big Red didn't let us down. (Yeah I named it. I think it's required that guys name their toys :p ) It's the best running truck I've owned with 2,000,000 miles on it other than having no heat.
This was the nice part of the road. The rest was too bumpy and scary for pictures
I don't know what this little creature was but he was cool and not scared.
(The top of the continental divide above)
The Moose swimming below was the first thing we seen as we pulled into mirror lake. I didn't know they could swim and I couldn't help myself laughing at Diana's reaction as it got real close knowing I had a 7,000 pound vehicle and a 30-30 rifle if he did decide to come after us. I have run into Moose before and as long as you leave them alone they left me alone. I should have messed with her and fake freaked out like it was going to come after us. Plus I knew they could run 30 mph but I didn't tell Diana that. It was too fun too see her freak out
Another major problem that plagued us was our campfire. No matter how hard we tried the bastard would not stay lit. We brought wood from home and found some off the side of the roads. The only thing that would burn was small twig branches off the trees that we chopped down with a small hand axe. This led to up having to constantly feed the fire non stop. We had multiple fire starting options in my hiking pack including duraflame logs that just gave me the middle finger. It was so cold I had to keep my lighter against my skin or it wouldn't even light. Even paper towels wouldn't stay lit! Now it was very moist up there but after the first burn to dry out the pit it still didn't make a difference. I have never had so much trouble with fire while shaking like a paint shaker in my life. This happened every day.
We tried our luck at fishing but the bottom of the lake was so rocky we just lost every pole set up. Diana had a smart and crafty idea of cutting chunks of our Styrofoam cooler to make a home made bobber. Still no luck. In all my years of fishing in Colorado I have found trout and big horn sheep to be just a myth. People tell me they exists but I never find them.
Having the luck of being a guy as you know we can pee anywhere. Anywhere but here in the dark. I walked some down the hill so Diana couldn't hear me. Being so rocky and steep, I ended up falling and rolling to the bottom of the hill Chris Farley style with my pants half way down. Luckily I didn't hit any trees but I hit every big rock on the way down. That was a good night :p
A waterfall coming down off the mountain. We have no idea where that water is coming from with no snow up there. Diana wouldn't go find out for me :p
To make matters worse for some reason my eyes puffed up the entire time like Will Smith in the movie Hitch. My only guess is I have developed a sensitivity to altitude. That's the second time in a row I went to the mountains and got sick. It really sucks because the mountains have always been my favorite place be ever since I got my drivers licence.
We moved down in elevation to the Collegiate Peaks and miraculously all the wood we brought burned just fine. What a relief that was. The rest of the pictures are from our second campsite and randomness along the way.
It really bothers me that the government owns most of the nicest land in the mountains and they force you into tiny camps to pay hotel rates. This totally defeats the purpose of camping. I don’t go up there to fight traffic getting there then end up in a spot next to the dreaded “late night drinkers.” The ones that keep you awake all night. Not to mention again the $40 fee to go fishing. (This trip was peaceful and silent thankfully and I tried to stay away from campgrounds but it didn’t work) I never even follow trails to avoid people. I usually make my own trail along the rivers so I don’t get lost.
Now to the latest camping adventure. My first day arriving in the area I had to sleep in my truck sitting up at a truck stop because I had too much stuff to lay my seat back. No biggie really. It just sucked. When I finally arrived at the campground the next day I realized no one was there. Perfect! I had high hopes now. I drove to the deepest and last campground in the area to find it so empty not even the host was there. Knowing no on would see me I figured I would get adventurous and go off road. I weaved my truck in, around and even over downed trees to get to a river I knew was back there. I made it far in and figured no one could see me but just in case as you can see in the pictures below I was only partially done “camouflaging” my truck with branches. I chose this area of the state because it is known for it’s free “dispersed” camping, yet there is no signs where.
I finished covering by truck but apparently Red is a hard color to hide. :p I dug a latrine in the ground, gathered wood, hung my trash in a tree far away and made a small fire pit. My tent was set up high but close to the rivers edge. It took a while but I found the most beautiful place and was finally done so it was time to fry up some burgers.
Just as I finished cooking, out pops the campground host. Apparently I didn’t go deep enough to avoid detection or he just has killer eyes. The guy was a total jerk and I can only handle a jerk in small doses. He wouldn’t quit yelling at me like a little kid as I remained respectful using my military – yes and no sir. Finally he popped me mentally. I won’t even share what I said to him but it wasn’t pretty. 2 hours before dark he told me “you need to get out of here now.” Me boiling over I ripped my tent out of the ground contents and all and crammed it in my truck. As I left I couldn’t resist doing a dusty dohnut right in front of his campsite. I knew I did wrong in the first place but I also at some point demand some respect from anyone and certainly the “camp bastard general.”
I made it to the next campground down the road and the new hosts were the best people I have met in a long time. They even offered me dinner with them and we ended up being friends for the time.
After finding the best spot (by a river) I realized my anger caused me more problems. All the poles to my tent were now snapped. I decided to just crawl in and sleep in the deflated tent that first night (it was miserable to move) I don’t know why I didn’t think to put a pole in the middle to hold it up. I later found out that all the campground hosts knew who I was from the guy spreading the word just down the road.
A bit of advice: If you have a sirloin steak and drop it on the ground before cooking it…just trash it. I thought I could just brush it off and cook it good but apparently this wasn’t good enough but that was some best tasted grass fed shit. Late in the night, in my deflated tent my stomach woke me. There is nothing worse that rushing to find your boots and running down a dark road to the “facilities” in the middle of a cold night. My health went down hill from here.
Speaking of witch, there is two kinds of campers. One’s that never have to go and you’re a lucky one or there is the ones that end up doing the power walk of shame like you been drinking water from Mexico. When it’s a single bathroom you can’t help but pray at this moment that no one is in there. I’m sure god doesn’t like those prayers.
In all reality I had no business being up there. I always go exploring but this time I spent 9 days simply eating, sleeping and fishing. If I felt better I would have stayed another week. There were Ice caves, waterfalls and much more to see but I didn’t make it to any. My health has gone way downhill and I thought this trip would help. I constantly watch survival shows and wanted to try out some new stuff and I did get to do just a few things.
I started my first fire with a striker. Now this process did come with allot of words of anger and I kept thinking of that stupid Bic lighter in my pocket but I didn’t give up. I am also a person that has never eaten anything that came out of water. I see all sea food as sea bugs even after spending 10 years in Florida. One day fishing I decided it’s time to just man up and try it. I caught a trout but had no container for it. I got right in my truck and drove 2 miles back to my campsite with a fish in my left hand hanging out the window and the other on the steering wheel. I then proceeded to damn there cut the tip of my thumb off with my freshly sharpened knife while preparing the fish. After taping my thumb pieces back together I continued. I got to admit that trout don’t taste that bad but I wouldn’t go seeking it out. Another victory down! Then I wanted to see if I could track myself (I already know I can survive.) I walked off (not too far) into the deep, thick woods crossing two rivers, breaking small branches. I was proud to find my way back simply by footprints and broken twigs. I had a few little victories.
And ladies… a little spoiler alert cuz I know it drives you crazy but in the middle of the night the tent zipper is as far as we go to expel water when camping alone :p
On a random side note. Mosquitoes tend to be a lot less when you camp next to flowing water. I had 50% deet spray on me and didn’t get bit once.
The day I finally decided to go home was the only day I felt good oddly enough. That day I decided to go on a road trip to the top of the Continental Divide where the snow still is. I made it to the top and took some pictures along the way. There was no sense going down the other side and here is where I got real stupid again. The whole way up I didn’t see a single car (warning number 1 for break downs) Second stupid move was getting cocky. I was hauling but going back down knowing how to pump the breaks and downshift in areas like that with switchbacks. I slid multiple times but was having a kick in the ass until I lost control. I slid right into the side of the mountain smashing my truck and dragging the rock down the whole side of the truck. Now this was a good thing because the other side of the road was a sheer cliff. In my head the damage is no big deal because the turd mobile hasn’t had a heater in 3 years and I saw it as pay back to make myself feel better. Yeah… I slowed down the rest of the way lol.
Why go camping? It’s so much work and everything will go wrong. I still can’t answer that. No matter what I go through each time I still love the shit out of it and miss being up there when I get home. Maybe It’s making it through the challenges, trying out your survival skills or just plain peaceful with nothing to worry about. Ever since I was 16 I have always went to the mountains to clear my head and de-stress. When I get on a hike I become a little kid again and if I had my way I would never turn around. This drives Diana nuts. The only thing more peaceful is trying to find new ways to drive Diana nuts and maybe that’s why I come home lol.
Sitting by the fire in the dark I decided to blog the old fashioned way with a pen and paper and type it up now that I’m back from a 9 day adventure 300 miles away to clear my head and get away. Pagosa Springs. Just miles from Durango and even New Mexico. It’s absolutely beautiful there. I had the whole campground to myself. Which is normally ideal but unsettling. I slept with a 30-30 rifle on my right and a 9mm with hollow points on my left all 9 days. This kept me worry free. I have had run ins with wildlife in the past at night. I wish I took more pictures.
I had the perfect secluded spot in pine trees with a running river outside my tent door to catch fish in. Now here is the reality.
Chris Rock once said “Camping is a bunch of white people pretending to be homeless.” It’s actually cheaper to be homeless! The cost of gas to get there, the $18 per night camping fee, the supplies to buy that make the trip, food, utensils, the week just preparing etc... And the $40 fishing license I decided to buy for the first time in my life. I don’t know why I did it. I watch all those survival shows and I was on a mission. I ended up at a campground which I will explain why soon.
I have been camping since I was a child and more so once I got my first truck at 16 so I have some learned experience behind me yet something or many things will always go wrong.
Diana and I once had a whole campground to ourselves at Grand Lake so no one could hear our screams. Now I won’t lie… I think I was screaming at the same pitch as Diana on this one :p In the middle of the night we were woken to something banging on the tent wall right next to our heads Blair Witch style and could hear the gravel crunching under whatever it was. Armed with a Leatherman it took a while to build the guts to unzip the front of that stupid tent. Once we did Diana pushed me to the ground and said “See ya bear bait” and made it to the car. (Kidding on Diana pushing me to the ground)
We drove around blowing the horn and looking for it yet saw nothing. Diana wanted to go to a hotel after that. I told her “no way is it coming back.” Wrong again. 2 hours later we woke to the same thing. I felt Diana shake me and I gave her the be silent finger and we laid there in fear once again. Eventually it stopped and I think Diana fainted because she was out like a light once it stopped. I laid there and listened. We call it a Bear Coon not knowing what exactly terrified us.
Then there was a time last year I got semi lost on a solo trip and hike on Trail Ridge Road at 9,000 feet and 15 miles deep on foot. I had to make a shelter of branches and pine needles to sleep in after a day of crossing in front of an angry Moose, Elk and even seeing bear tracks. I was even attacked by a rabid squirrel :p I don’t get up before the sun anymore. That was the coldest I ever been and was on the verge of hypothermia.
Part 2 coming soon with pictures. It was an experience. I slammed my truck against the side of a mountain at the continental divide and more.