The Bucket List

I would bet that everyone has a bucket list.  Top on my bucket list is driving to Utah.  I have wanted to do this activity for 20 years.  I want to drive to the state line and touch it and come back home.  I know, it is a little weird but it top on my list.  Today, however I am going to visit about a different type of bucket list.  You see this is kidding season at Spurgeon Farms and we trying to be a little more proactive this year than in the past.

Amy, my loving wife, actually bought a bucket. Now that sounds crazy to me as we finished building the house and have approximately 100 drywall mud buckets around the farm.  But she bought a special magic bucket for the kids.  Maybe I can see the reason for such a purchase.  This magic bucket came with no prior ingredients and a fancy lid.  We actually washed the bucket a couple times prior to installing the contents to make sure things were as sterile as possible.  In a nutshell it is just a 5 gallon plastic bucket to put all the essential kidding prep tools into for our trips to the barn.

The “Magic Bucket”  

IMG_0609 (1)  So what is in the magic bucket, that is going to save the lives of countless kids and bring record keeping to new levels for us.  The first thing in the magic bucket is latex gloves.  I am a proud member of the Trafalgar Volunteer Fireman and we would never check out a patient without gloves on our hands.  The same thing is true with the goats.  We have worked hard to reduce/eliminate disease from the farm and one of the best methods for disease and parasite control is a clean environment.  We are probably a little obsessed with the use of our gloves, but better safe than for us to infect a doe or kid with some germ the children brought home on the school bus.

Unscented wet wipes, “the unique cushion texture and mild cleaning solution leaves your baby extra clean and refreshed”.  What???  Wet wipes are an important part of the magic bucket.  There is nothing better for wiping the face of the newborn kid then a wet wipe.  It will pull the mucus and foreign material away from the kids mouth and nose, giving the kid that extra kick it needs to start being a goat.  Now if all is well and the little guy/girl is starting to make a little noise, we can head back into the house for an hour or so to let mother and kid(s) get to know each other.

One of my favorite tools in the magic bucket is the Iodine squirt bottle.  You can make a white goat red with this stuff not to mention clothes too.  We use the Iodine on all the kids navel cords.  We will clip the cord and cover it with Iodine.  Basically, Iodine is a disinfect for superficial wounds or cuts.  If the kid is a buckling and is going to be a 4H animal, we will castrate him.  Any of the kids that we sell for meat or to the local auction are left intact, however 4H kids must be castrated and doing it at birth is the least stressful time.  Within the magic bucket, we have a box of disposable scalpels.  TSC has a sterile box of 5 scalpels for less than $10.  To perform this task, we will cut the bottom of the scrotum off and pull each testicle out, tearing the cord to prevent excessive bleeding.  The bottom of the scrotum should remain open to allow for drainage after castration.  As you except, we cover the wound with Iodine.

All the things in the magic bucket are in some special way used for the health and well-being of the animal(s), however this next item is really for me.  We are expecting 20 – 30 kids between December 15 – December 30th.  I love all my kids, however sometimes it is difficult to identify them quickly and/or correctly.  Everyone has seen this fancy NSEP ID tags from the USDA on goats at livestock shows or while visiting local farms, but how do you obtain them and more important what is the cost to the producer.  In 2001 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiated an accelerated program to eradicate scrapie from the nation’s sheep flocks and goat herds.  The National Scrapie Eradication Program (NSEP) coordinated by the USDA is a joint effort that includes participation by state governments and industry, particularly producers to provide FREE of charge ID tags and ID tagging tools to all producers.  All you need to do is call the scrapie toll free number 866-USDA-TAG (866-873-2824 Select option 7 for Epidemiologist officer) to request official ear tags at no cost.

So far we have talked about the good things in the magic bucket.  Oh yes, I forgot about the weight scale monitor.  While we are doing all the other things to the kid(s), we take a birth weight on each kid.  But what happens when things do not go a planned.  Anyone that says they have not lost a kid is lying.  I cry every time wondering if there was something I could have done to make the outcome different.  That is really the reason for the magic bucket.  With any luck and good management skills, we will never have to use the next items however for now they are still in the magic bucket.

One thing I enjoy is a good Diet Mt. Dew.  I joke with the children and say that the only thing better than a Diet Mt. Dew is a cold Diet Mt. Dew and yes we have Diet Mt. Dew in the magic bucket.  Well maybe not actual Diet Mt. Dew, but a Diet Mt Dew 20 oz bottle.  It makes a perfect kid bottle.  We purchased a screw on nipple that attaches to a plastic bottle for providing colostrum and milk to the kids.  A drench gun can also be used to provide colostrum when the kid is too weak to nurse from the bottle.  We try everything we can before moving to the bottle, however the kid(s) needs to have colostrum within the first 4 – 6 hours of life.  Even when we provide the colostrum, we still make an attempt to have the kid and doe nurse.

We do carry a couple of medications in the magic bucket, LA-200, selenium, penicillin (refrigerated), CDT (refrigerated).  In general we do not give any shots to the kids or mother at birth.  The CDT and selenium are given at approximately 30 days old.  One thing that we do provide to all the does at kidding is a dewormer.  We follow the Famacha chart for deworming throughout the year, however at birthing everyone gets a deworming dose.  There is no more important time for the kids and does than that first couple days.  This is also the most stressful time for the animals and the time when parasites like to make their presence known.   You can have a “Optimal” color chart goat on day one and a “Dangerous” color chart goat on day 10.  And with that, we give all does a dose of Cydectin at kidding.  I found a nice chart for dosages of different dewormers @

I understand that I can not save them all, however if the magic bucket saves just one kid on my farm I am glad that we took the time to put it together.  This has been a learning experience for all my family.  I studied Animal Science in college, however at the time I was much more interested in cattle.  The goats are wonderful animals and provide a completely different level of care.  Everyone in the family has enjoyed the learning curve and look forward to an exciting “kidding season 2015”.

OH NO Cube Steaks!!

I personally love cube steaks, however I think I am in the minority. It seems that my family only sees the cube steak as a last resort. So, What is it really? Quoting from Wikipedia “A Cube steak is a cut of beef, usually top round or top sirloin, tenderized by fierce pounding with a meat tenderizer, or use of an electric tenderizer. The name refers to the shape of the indentations left by that process (called “cubing”).[1] This is the most common cut of meat used for the American dish chicken fried steak.”

As the definition states, a cube steak is tough, however with enough cooking time the cube steak can be wonderful. Another prime example is the brisket. No one in there right mind would look at a brisket and say “that looks tasty”, however if you barbecue it for 12 hours there is no better piece of meat. I think the same thing can be said for a cube steak. Which brings me to the topic of the day! My dear wife went back to work at the church as a part-time secretary. She works on Monday’s and Friday’s, so I have been trying to pick up the dinner routine on those days. Yes, there are some nights we do give in and eat at a local restaurant but in general I am able to find my way around the kitchen pretty well.

This recipe is a family favorite. I personally love it, because it is super easy. All you need is 15 minutes and a crock pot. Since I have two teenagers, I double this recipe and just hope there is enough leftover for lunch the next day.

Ultimate Swiss Steak
4 Spurgeon Farms cube steaks
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Stouts Melody Acres
1/2 cup grated process American cheese

Dredge the cube steaks in flour mixed with salt; place in crock pot. Add chopped vegetables and Worcestershire sauce. Layer the molasses over the vegetables and pour the tomato sauce over the entire mixture. Cover and cook on Low for 8 – 10 hours or on High for 4 – 5 hours. Just before serving, sprinkle with the grated cheese (serves 4).

Where is buy local?