Oberhasli

OberhasliThe Oberhasli of Switzerland has long been known for three things—its distinctive color pattern, its milk production, and its antiquity. This latter trait, in fact, has largely obscured its history. By the time it was first registered in Switzerland, it was already an old breed.
But we do know how the Oberhasli came to be established in America. It was first imported in 1906 and again in 1920, but the goats from these two importations were absorbed into the general population of goats of mixed heritage prevalent across the United States. All purebred Oberhasli in America descend from one buck and four does, three of them already bred, introduced by Dr. H.O. Pence of Kansas City, Missouri, in 1936.

The descendants of these goats were for a time in danger of sharing the fate of their predecessors. For several decades, the Oberhasli, then known as the Swiss Alpine, was considered a mere subset of the French Alpine breed. Very few were kept pure, and most of these belonged to Esther Oman of California.

However, Oman and her friends and associates eventually realized that there were just enough purebred Oberhasli in the United States to form a registry. A herdbook for record-keeping purposes was accordingly founded in 1980. However, the difficult work of increasing the breed’s numbers without incurring severe inbreeding problems was just beginning. Many of the Oberhasli suffered from shortcomings in health and production at first.

Careful selection of breeding stock has paid off, however. The Oberhasli is now considerably improved in build and dairy abilities. An estimated 1,700 can be found across the country. While this certainly merits the classification of the Oberhasli as a rare breed, it is a sign that the genetic material is still there for a dedicated breeder to work with.

 

Uses

The Oberhasli is almost exclusively a dairy animal. However, it can be used as a land management tool and as a pack animal. The latter is a particularly good option for extra male kids when whethered.

 

OberhasliTemperament

The Oberhasli is frequently easy for its human handlers to get along with. Although active and alert, it is still completely calm and docile. It fears little, so it can afford to be friendly. It can be vocal.

Most Oberhasli does tend to be on the dominant side. When placed in a herd containing other breeds, the Oberhasli will rule the roost—especially when food is involved.

 

Health

Most major health problems in the Oberhasli have been resolved. The main health requirements of this breed are proper care of hardworking dairy does and due attention to keeping inbreeding levels low.

 

Pros

  • Steady disposition.
  • Adaptability to many climates, particularly cold ones.
  • Feed efficiency.
  • Hardiness.
  • Sweet milk flavor.
  • Strength as pack animals.

 

OberhasliCons

  • Scarcity.
  • Vocal tendencies.
  • Ability as an escape artist.
  • Variable milk production.
  • Low butterfat content of milk.

 

Complete Series

Goat BreedsGoat Breeds

 

Is Raw Honey Safe?

Is Raw Honey Safe?

Raw honey is good for your immune system—at least, that’s what the raw foodies say.

It makes sense at first glance. After all, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising if the pasteurization process kills the good microbes with the bad ones. And research suggests that small doses of the pollen in raw, unfiltered honey may work similarly to an allergy shot.

But is raw honey safe? That’s an issue health and food experts are still debating.

Continue reading Is Raw Honey Safe?

Kansas Historical Markers

Kansas Historical MarkersOver 120 historical markers dot the Kansas landscape, telling the story of our fascinating state.

If you are looking for the Kansas historical markers, the Kansas Historical Society offers a complete listing organized by county. Each entry provides the full text of the marker, along with its address and GPS coordinates.

As you visit the historical markers, you will get an idea of the local context and be introduced to many fascinating facts and stories. Topics include:

  • General Frederick Funston.
  • Medicine Lodge peace treaties.
  • The bluestem pasture region.
  • Historic Abilene.
  • The Battle of Coon Creek.
  • American Indians and the buffalo.
  • The first capitol of Kansas.
  • Turkey red wheat.
  • Overland trails.
  • Chouteau’s Island.
  • Fort Leavenworth.
  • The Mennonites.
  • The Osage Catholic Mission.
  • The geodetic center of North America.
  • The birthplace of farm credit.
  • The Pawnee Indian Village Museum.
  • The arrival of the railroad.
  • The Samson of the Cimarron.
  • Beecher Bibles.
  • Much more!

Reading Kansas historical markers is a great way to relive history as you visit the sites where events occurred. Have fun!

Nubian

NubianThe Nubian goat is typically thought of as an African breed. In reality, it traces back to late 1800s England. As the British Empire expanded to new regions, ships brought back native bucks from many environments. Many of these bucks were large, hardy animals that promised to improve British dairy goats. In particular, bucks from Egypt, Arabia, and India were favored.

When crossed with English dairy goats, the foreign bucks produced superior milking animals with good health, high production, and long lactations. The blend gradually developed into a new breed known as the Nubian.

The Nubian’s fame quickly spread, as did its population. The first three Nubians in America arrived in California in 1909. In short order, the breed became a popular choice in the United States, as well.

Today, the Nubian is believed to be the most common purebred goat in America.

 

NubianUses

In the United States, the Nubian typically specializes in dairy products. It is well suited to the production of fluid milk, but also shines in the areas of cheese and ice cream.

However, Nubians are more versatile than they are typically given credit for. Surplus kids can be raised for meat and subsequently hides. They can also be trained to carry packs or pull carts.

The Nubian is a common choice when upgrading Boers to produce a hardier meat goat.

Small-scale homesteaders will be interested to note that a miniature version of the Nubian exists for those with limited acreage.

 

Temperament

The Nubian is an inquisitive, sociable goat that thrives on human interaction. It bonds readily and is patient with children.

While the Nubian goat is sometimes described as stubborn, this trait can be seen in a positive light—the Nubian is smart and forms habits readily. Take advantage of this characteristic by training your goat the desired farm routine. Once accustomed to being in the right place at the right time, the Nubian will respond obediently and with initiative.

Note that Nubians are known for their loud, complaining voices, which may be an issue in populated areas. While they are not vocal at all times, if they are dissatisfied for any reason, the entire neighborhood will hear about it. Keep them quiet by meeting their needs for food, water, shelter, and affection. Does will also need the attention of a buck to avoid noise-making problems when they are in heat.

 

NubianHealth

Overall, the Nubian is a healthy, constitutionally sound goat. However, several structural problems are prevalent throughout the breed, so choose dairy animals and breeding stock carefully.

The Nubian originally had an undershot bite, as this was thought to help it efficiently browse high tree branches. Today, this trait is being selected against because it can hinder the goat from eating grass.

Another common structural difficulty in the Nubian breed is unsound udders. Be sure to examine the udder structure of any dairy goats you purchase.

The Nubian goat is known for long ears, originally developed to protect the eyes and ear openings from blowing sand. In colder climates, however, these ears can be more of a hindrance than a help, as they are prone to dangling into water troughs and freezing.

 

Pros

  • Tolerance of most climates, particularly hot ones.
  • Few health problems.
  • Longevity; can often produce past the age of 12.
  • Long breeding season.
  • Prolific tendencies; healthy does regularly give birth to two, three, or four kids at a time.
  • Udder conformation easy to milk.
  • Good milk flavor.
  • High protein and butterfat content of milk.
  • Rapid growth.
  • Heavy muscling.

 

NubianCons

  • Noise.
  • Exceptional ability as an escape artist.
  • Susceptibility to frostbitten ears.
  • Prevalence of unsound udders.
  • Low milk production levels.

 

Complete Series

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How to Test Seed Germination Rates

 

How to Test Seed Germination Rates

Spring is only a month away, and with spring comes gardening season. Now is a good time to check the germination rates of those seeds you have stashed away in the basement—before you need to plant them!

You Will Need

  • Seeds.
  • Paper towel.
  • Large Ziploc bag.

 

Instructions

  1. Lightly moisten a square of paper towel. (Take care that it doesn’t get soggy.)
  2. Line up 10 seeds from the same packet on the paper towel, close to the edge but not so close that they are likely to roll off.
  3. Fold the paper towel over the seeds.
  4. Carefully slide the paper towel into the Ziploc bag without dislodging the seeds.
  5. Seal the Ziploc and set it in a warm location where it won’t be disturbed.
  6. Check on the seeds daily to watch for germination and to moisten the paper towel if it starts to dry out.
  7. Once all the seeds have stopped germinating (maybe after a few days for fast-growing plants like beans or up to two weeks for slow-growing plants like carrots), count how many sprouted. You now have a germination rate.
  8. For a more accurate test, follow these instructions using 100 seeds. You will need more paper towel and a larger Ziploc bag to do this.

 

How to Use This Information

If your germination rate was 70% or more, you’re in luck! Your seeds are still fresh and vigorous. You should be able to plant one seed for every hole and avoid wasting seeds through needless thinning.

If your rate was more along the lines of 50% to 70%, your seeds are still quite usable. In fact, these lower rates may even be normal for some vegetables, such as carrots. However, you will want to compensate by planting two to three seeds in every hole.

If your rate was below 50%, you will have to decide if you want to bother with that particular seed packet or not. You may be able to get a little more use out of it by planting four or five seeds per hole. However, you may decide, particularly if they sprout in a tardy fashion, that it’s more worthwhile just to buy new seeds.

Nebo LED Lights

Nebo LightsWe love Nebo lights. They’re bright, they come in all shapes and sizes, and they attach to just about anything.

That last part is what makes Nebo flashlights so handy. Depending on the model, a Nebo flashlight can be attached to a belt, a pocket, a magnetic surface, a nail on the wall, or even a strip of Velcro.

Here are three of our favorite Nebo models:

  • Larry, with a magnetic swivel clip equally at home on your fridge or your pocket.
  • Big Larry, with a magnetic base and three light modes—high, low, and emergency red flashing.
  • Flipit, which looks like a light switch but has the distinct advantage of being portable. Hang it up with screws, magnets, or Velcro.

One thing is certain—whatever you need to use your flashlight for, you’ll find a Nebo that fits your needs!

Nigerian Dwarf

Nigerian DwarfGoats of dwarfish proportions were once widespread across much of Africa, their historic home being a large swath stretching from the Atlantic coast inland as far as modern Sudan and almost spanning from 20°N to 20°S latitude. These miniature goats varied by region, some being stocky, cobby little animals and others proportioned like true dairy goats.

How the dwarf goats ended up in Europe is somewhat unclear, but they were probably carried on board ships as provisions. Whether they were provisions for slavers or for captured lions is a matter of speculation. In any case, some clearly escaped consumption and took up residence at parks and zoos, where they enjoyed the privileged lives of exotic curiosities.

Dwarf goats were first shipped to American zoos in the early 1930s. For several decades, the only way the average American knew about dwarf goats was through the zoos. However, the miniature goats had winning personalities, so when zoos finally had enough surplus kids to disperse, buyers were readily found.

Most privately owned dwarf goats were pets at first. However, one type clearly had dairy potential, so breeders took interest. The Nigerian Dwarf breed was developed by selecting the miniature African goats with dairy qualities in the mid-1970s, and considerable progress toward breeding an efficient homestead dairy animal has been made since then.

Today, the Nigerian Dwarf is still a rare breed, with only about 3,500 registered in the United States. However, they appear to be in no danger, becoming increasingly popular among backyard homesteaders across the country.

 

Nigerian DwarfUses

For the homesteader with a desire for homegrown milk, the Nigerian Dwarf is a superb choice. Its size and temperament make it suitable to many who would find a standard breed undesirable, including elderly homesteaders, families with very young children, and those with very limited land access. Nigerian Dwarf milk is good for both drinking and making cheese.

However, it is important to note that many Nigerian Dwarfs are still bred for the pet market. While these goats are irresistibly cute, they rarely produce enough milk for satisfactory homesteading. Look for a breeder who emphasizes milk production in the breeding program.

An additional use of the Nigerian Dwarf is eliminating pesky weeds around the backyard.

 

Temperament

When handled from an early age, Nigerian Dwarfs have delightful, petlike personalities. They are docile, gentle, and extremely gregarious. While active and playful enough to be quite entertaining, they are also calm and easygoing.

However, don’t underestimate the intelligence of the Nigerian Dwarf—this breed can be downright cunning. Containing a Nigerian Dwarf is no easy task. On the bright side, that sharp mind can be put to use learning tricks, such going for a walk on a leash with the family dog.

Nigerian Dwarf bucks can appear to be fiercely competitive, but their bark is worse than their bite. Youngsters may battle for hours on end with each other. Don’t worry—they seem to view the whole affair as a game and rarely hurt each other. Toward humans, Nigerian Dwarf bucks are typically gentle and easy to handle. They are exceedingly pugnacious toward stray dogs and other potential threats, so take great care to protect your herd from predators.

 

Nigerian DwarfHealth

The Nigerian Dwarf is a healthy, hardy breed. Common-sense goat care should keep your herd in top form.

Note that these goats are able to breed well before their bodies can handle the strain of kidding. Buck kids may be fertile as early as seven weeks of age, so wean them separately from the doe kids. Ideally, does should not be bred for the first time until they are between 8 and 12 months of age, provided they are in good condition.

 

Pros

  • Ease of handling and transport.
  • Suitability for very small acreages; three dwarf goats can typically be kept in the same amount of space as one standard breed.
  • Suitability for warm climates.
  • Low feed requirements.
  • Few health problems.
  • Early maturity.
  • Ability to breed year-round.
  • Fertility.
  • Ability to conceive large numbers of kids, three or four being common.
  • Easy kidding.
  • Good mothering abilities.
  • Udder conformation easy to milk for most people.
  • Milk quantities suited for family use.
  • Sweet milk flavor without a “goaty” taste.
  • High butterfat content of milk.

 

Nigerian DwarfCons

  • Prevalence of goats bred as pets instead of dairy animals.
  • Exceptional ability as an escape artist.

 

Complete Series

Goat BreedsGoat Breeds

 

Freeport, Formerly the Smallest Incorporated City in Kansas

Freeport, Formerly the Smallest Incorporated City in KansasKansas lost a state treasure in November 2017. No, it did not burn down, it did not collapse, and it was not razed. It was simply unincorporated.

This landmark was the tiny town of Freeport, the smallest incorporated city in Kansas.

 

Early History of Freeport

Located in Harper County, Freeport began its existence as Midlothian (a Scottish word meaning “midland”), just two or three miles southeast of the town’s present location. The Midlothian post office opened its doors in April 1879 to serve the local farmers with Benjamin H. Freeman as first postmaster. This post office was conveniently located on a stage line running from Wellington to Medicine Lodge, and was also Freeman’s residence and trading post. A small church and school were located nearby.

In 1885, the St. Louis, Fort Scott & Wichita Railroad (later the Missouri Pacific) arrived. The railroad officials laid out a new townsite nearby and named it Freeport. The precise origin of the name Freeport is unclear—some have suggested it was derived from the name of B.H. Freeman. Or perhaps is was a tribute to the concept of liberty. We may never know.

However, the farmers of Midlothian were determined to compete. Their town was moved up to the tracks, less than a quarter of a mile from Freeport. Midlothian received a town charter only a week after the organization of Freeport, and the two main streets were only two blocks away from each other. The farmers convinced Freeman to move the post office to their townsite. In short order, each town also had its own newspaper, Midlothian being served by the Midlothian Sun and Freeport by the Freeport Leader.

Which town would receive the railroad depot was a matter of fierce contention for a time. Given its railroad-derived origin, perhaps there is little surprise that Freeport won the battle. Once the depot was built, businessmen located their hotels and grain elevators in Freeport instead of Midlothian, and the fate of the latter was sealed.

Midlothian was eventually absorbed. The Midlothian post office was renamed Freeport to match the name of the depot in 1885. The Midlothian Sun was moved to the new townsite in 1886 and received the name of Freeport Tribune, but only survived for a few months afterward. By March, Midlothian was simply known as “West Freeport.” The combined towns boasted a population of 500 in 1886.

Freeport was once a bustling community. Two grain elevators were established, as were three lumberyards, two hotels, a bank, five dry goods stores, nine grocery stores, three drug stores, two hardware stores, two meat markets, four blacksmith shops, and more. The Freeport Leader persisted from 1885 to 1891. At the height of its prosperity, Freeport had an estimated population of 700 in 1892.

 

Struggles of a Small Incorporated City

But that number had been swelled by hundreds of people waiting to participate in the Oklahoma Land Rush. The largest land run of this period was when the Cherokee Outlet was opened on September 16, 1893. A census in 1895 showed the result—Freeport was down to a population of 54.

Keeping the town incorporated became a perpetual challenge as the population slowly dwindled over the next century. In 1980, the town boasted 12 residents. By 2010, census-takers recorded a population of five.

City officials eventually decided that elections cost too much money. For several decades, Freeport held no elections for city offices. Instead, the mayor and members of the city council were elected by residents of the surrounding Silver Creek Township. The council only met every few months, since there was little business to carry out. Only the city clerk received compensation for his or her services.

The Freeport State Bank, chartered in 1902, was for many years the only state bank in Harper County. It closed in 2009, followed by the post office in 2016.

In the November 2017 election, voters chose to dissolve Freeport by a vote of 4 to 0, giving the honor of being the smallest incorporated city in Kansas to Frederick (Rice County), with a population of 18 in 2010.

 

Helpful Resource

History of Freeport
Interesting first-hand accounts.

The Worst Jokes I Know—$1.99 This Weekend Only

The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!)

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (February 9–11), we are offering a special price of $1.99 on the Kindle edition of The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!) by B. Patrick Lincoln. This is almost a 70% savings compared to the list price of the print version!

The Worst Jokes I Know is an illustrated collection of 101 Funny Bone Ticklers for Jokesters of All Ages designed to be shared and enjoyed by the entire family.

Young jokers (cards, you might say) will enjoy trying out clean, corny wordplay on their family, friends, and pun pals as they find out:

  • Why is it inadvisable to read the contents of this book to an egg?
  • Why was the ground delighted with the earthquake?
  • And why did the chicken really cross the road?

The Kindle edition features color illustrations (depending on your device).

The Worst Jokes I Know is also currently available for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers until July 7. Click here for free sample pages.

Johnny Kaw: A Tall Tale

Johnny KawHe was born on a night when a stormy wind blew;
Five minutes old, already six feet two.

Thus begins the story of Kansas’s own legendary hero and Paul Bunyan figure, Johnny Kaw.

Johnny Kaw: A Tall Tale by Devin Scillian presents the story in a format that children will love—playful verse accompanied by hilarious illustrations.

Young Johnny Kaw grows fast—too fast to stay in town, in fact. But when Johnny’s family moves west to find more room for their son to grow, the young man’s immense size proves to be a decided asset. Readers young and old are sure to chuckle as Johnny Kaw carries the family wagon across the river, tackles a tornado with a scythe, and pulls stones from his father’s field with his bare hands, incidentally creating the Rocky Mountains in the process.

The Johnny Kaw legend is of recent origin, having sprung up in Manhattan, Kansas, in 1955 to celebrate that town’s centennial. The original Johnny Kaw was a rather feisty man, known for keeping a wildcat and a jayhawk as pets and for having once settled a dispute with Paul Bunyan by plowing the bed of the Mississippi River with the latter’s face.

Parents will be happy to know that the new Johnny Kaw introduced in Scillian’s book is a gentle giant, displaying a tenderness that warms the heart.

Great read for youngsters and those who love all things Kansas!