This landmark was the tiny town of Freeport, the smallest incorporated city in Kansas. Read More
Thus begins the story of Kansas’s own legendary hero and Paul Bunyan figure, Johnny Kaw. Read More
As its name suggests, the LaMancha does have ancestors from Spain, but it was developed entirely in the United States. Its story begins with the arrival of the conquistadors. The conquistadors and the missionaries who accompanied them always brought along livestock for food. Goats were usually among the herds and flocks, thanks to their versatility; they could provide both milk and meat on long journeys or at isolated missions. Read More
Homestead on the Range has come a long way since we launched our website almost five years ago. Our site was originally self-hosted, but about a year ago we moved to WordPress.com, and we haven’t looked back.
If you are considering launching a new website for your farm, small business, or personal enjoyment, or if you have been dissatisfied with your current arrangement, you might want to consider hosting your site on WordPress.com. Here’s why:
- Security. No site is immune to being hacked, and maintaining the integrity of a self-hosted site, especially one that uses a database, can be an absolute nightmare. Our previous setup was an amalgamation involving WordPress.org (the free open-source version), a theme, and a multitude of plugins. In short, a patchwork quilt of sometimes incompatible pieces, all regularly requiring updating and all regularly breaking when updated. WordPress.com is a complete package, and it updates in the background. No supervision required. (And no vetting of plugins to sort the good ones from the malware!)
- Intuitive design process. The WordPress.com interface is incredibly intuitive and user-friendly. You don’t have to know anything about coding in HTML or CSS to get started (although learning these two languages will give you greater flexibility). Pick a theme that looks nice to you. Then use the drop-down menus and drag-and-drop widgets in the Customizer to change fonts, select a color scheme, upload a header image, and set up sidebars and footers. It’s really that easy.
- A plan for everyone. WordPress.com offers four plans, so there is something to fit every budget. The basic plan is free. For a custom domain name (e.g., myfarmwebsiteexample.com instead of myfarmwebsiteexample.wordpress.com) or for a little more flexibility about how your site looks, select from one of the paid plans. The highest package offers almost total control over all aspects of your website.
- Excellent documentation and support. Have a question? WordPress.com offers extensive and easy-to-understand documentation to guide you every step of the way. Plus, if you get into a real bind, you can browse the support forums or contact their extremely responsive staff.
And then there’s a whole host of nice features we use daily and love, such as the diverse selection of themes, the built-in share buttons and contact forms, and the attractive gallery feature (check out this page from our gallery). The entire system is novice-friendly and super easy to use.
The French Alpine originated thousands of years ago as the direct descendant of the Pashang of Persia, one of the earliest goats to be domesticated. The Pashang traveled to the Alps with the original settlers of this rugged region, and here it adapted to new conditions.
For millennia the goats of the Alps developed as a landrace, the harsh, unforgiving environment having the first choice and final say in what goats would produce the next generation. To survive in the Alps, a goat had to thrive under wild swings of temperature and had to be able to find sparse vegetation on the dry, rocky inclines—and then use it efficiently. Above all, it had to have a sure footing and well-developed sense of balance. This is not to say that human selection did not play a role. On the contrary, goatherds depended on their animals for their own living, so they selected for milk production. It is believed that they may have bred for favorite colors, as well. Ultimately, however, neither characteristic could come at the expense of survival traits.
It was not until the 1900s that the goats of the Alpines began to develop into a breed in the usual sense of the term. Early in the century, the Alpine found its way into many French dairy herds, and thus entered a new phase of development under the guidance of man. Size, uniformity, and milk production were emphasized at this time.
The French Alpine first came to the United States in late 1922, when Dr. Charles P. Delangle imported a herd. With the assistance of his friend Joseph Crepin, France’s top expert on goat husbandry in that day, Delangle picked 19 does and three bucks from the herds coming down from the Alps for the winter. These were shipped to his home in California.
Unfortunately, they were not destined to remain in Delangle’s care for long. Delangle was constantly in disputes with other goatkeepers, culminating in his expulsion from the American Milk Goat Record Association in 1923. Disgusted and in poor health, Delangle dispersed his entire herd. While a misfortune for him, this event was probably a great boon to the breed, as it began the spread of the French Alpine across the country.
Today, the French Alpine is considered an important commercial dairy breed around the world. It is also quite popular across the United States, especially in a crossbred form, known as the American Alpine.
The French Alpine is bred exclusively for dairy purposes. Although it can be kept for homestead milk production, it has been selected for high yields, making it suited for a commercial enterprise.
Excess males are typically raised for meat, but if castrated they can be trained as pack animals.
The French Alpine is both docile and strong-willed, a mixture that often delights its owners. It is friendly and affectionate, making it very rewarding to work with. However, it is also a challenge—the French Alpine has a keen mind and an insatiable curiosity, making it hard to contain. It is not suited to tight confinement, as it will quickly grow bored.
This breed is known for its complex social behavior. While it forms strong bonds with other herd members, it is also aggressive and competitive. Pecking order squabbles are frequent.
Keeping French Alpine goats healthy requires some care and consideration, but is not an insurmountable difficulty. The first thing to note is the breed’s high nutrient requirements. The French Alpine is a high-octane milk producer, which means that it will require ample feed to avoid losing body condition. A diet high in protein and complex carbohydrates is recommended.
Care is also required when breeding French Alpines. Does are technically able to conceive as early as four months of age. However, they are not finished growing by this time, so the additional strain of pregnancy and caring for kids can break down their health. Does of this breed will have much longer, healthier, more productive lives if they are not bred for the first time until their second fall.
Also, be careful with the choice of a buck for your doe. All French Alpines in America trace back to Delangle’s herd of 22, making inbreeding a constant concern with this breed. Keep tabs on the inbreeding coefficients produced by any proposed mating, and always keep track of pedigrees. This is time-consuming work, but is necessary for the genetic health of the breed.
Finally, note that French Alpines simply are not suited to wet climates. When kept in damp areas, they are prone to internal parasites, foot rot, and respiratory ailments. Those in humid regions should consider a different breed.
- Adaptability to all but wet climates.
- Early maturity.
- Well-built udders.
- Long lactations, lasting up to two years.
- Excellent milk production, the highest annual average of any goat breed.
- Personality unsuited for confinement.
- Ability as an escape artist.
- Unsuitability for wet climates.
- High feed requirements.
- Challenge of avoiding inbreeding.
One of the most recent trends in health is “raw” water.
Simply put, raw water is water that has not been filtered or treated in any way. It may come from a well, a spring, a pond, or directly from the sky, but the point is that raw water is water in an unprocessed state.
Some companies have decided to cash in on the raw water philosophy, bottling unfiltered spring water to sell at amazing prices at health food stores, especially on the West Coast. While this product has proven so commercially successful as to be frequently out of stock in stores that carry it, some customers opt for the less-expensive-in-the-long-term alternative of harvesting raw water themselves. This latter solution has particular appeal to the off-the-grid set.
Raw food has long been advocated by health food proponents. Raw water was a natural next step, and the suggested benefits are quite similar. Just as cooking vegetables, for instance, has the potential to destroy beneficial nutrients, filtering and treating water has the potential to eliminate everything from essential minerals to helpful probiotics—substances that not only promote overall health, but that keep the body hydrated.
Furthermore, raw water advocates observe that regular bottled water is by no means contaminant-free. While there are regulatory limits on the amount of contaminants permitted in bottled water or city tap water, the regulations do tend to lag behind the science, resulting in perpetually outdated monitoring. Furthermore, some contaminants may actually be added during treatment, ranging from fluoride to chlorine to lead leached from pipes. Raw water avoids many of these problems.
Of course, if the good substances, like probiotics, can remain in raw water, contaminants can, as well. Bacteria, viruses, and parasites can all lurk in unfiltered water, depending on its source.
In fact, scientists observe that many diseases and infections in underdeveloped countries come from what health-food buffs are now hailing as raw water:
- E. coli.
Furthermore, some of the claims made by those selling raw water can be alarming. One company cautions not to leave the water sitting on the shelf too long or it will turn green. Some regard this as evidence that the water is still “alive,” unlike “dead” filtered water. Others feel that the disturbing green color suggests that harmful organisms may be present, while the CDC warns that even water that looks sparkling clear may contain invisible pathogens.
A Final Note
Whatever one may think of the hefty price tag accompanying raw water products sold at health food stores, it is only fair to note that the providers have obtained laboratory analyses of their products. So does that make their water safe? A great deal depends on the integrity of the company—but that’s true with all food and water products.
Those who are interested in harvesting their own raw water should exercise caution. Unfortunately, relatively few homesteaders are likely to have access to a truly clean source of raw water on their property. The fortunate few are encouraged to thoroughly read up on water safety and to test the quality of their water on a frequent, regular basis.
Looking for an extensive depository of digitized primary source material related to the turbulent territorial days of Kansas? Try Territorial Kansas Online, a project developed by the Kansas State Historical Society and the University of Kansas.
Territorial Kansas Online displays a wide range of artifacts dating from 1854 to 1861, including:
- Legislative acts.
- Meeting minutes.
- Sheet music.
There are several ways to browse the content of the site:
- Search by keyword or author.
- Filter materials by county.
- Explore broad topics ranging from border warfare to the national debate on Kansas.
- Browse an alphabetical list of specific topics beginning with A. Hoen & Co. and ending with Israel Zimmerman.
There is also a helpful timeline of major events in Kansas territorial history along with links to relevant materials.
Please note that this impressive collection of documents represents a wide range of perspectives, some of them unthinkable or offensive to the modern reader. However, studying primary source materials is essential for an accurate understanding of history and of the events that unfolded in Bleeding Kansas. Territorial Kansas Online is an excellent, easy-to-use way to experience these primary sources.
Cashmere—a word that has denoted luxury and comfort since the most ancient times. Perhaps the oldest reference to this fine fiber is in Exodus 25:4, where God requests offerings of goats’ hair (also known as cashmere) to build the tabernacle. The cashmere was subsequently used to make curtains (Exodus 36:14).
While any goat except the fleecy Angora can technically produce cashmere, some goats have been bred specifically for the purpose and excel in both the quantity and the quality of their fiber. Goats raised for cashmere originally came from Tibet, not from their namesake region of Kashmir in northern India. Kashmir was where cashmere was woven into fabric until the late 1800s, when Scottish manufacturer Joseph Dawson perfected a machine to separate the soft undercoat from the undesirably coarse guard hairs. This shifted the center of cashmere manufacture to Scotland and began a rage for all things cashmere.
In America, Cashmere and Angora goats were frequently confused at first. In fact, a Tibetan Cashmere doe may have been part of Dr. James B. Davis’s purebred Angora flock, imported in 1849. The modern-day Cashmere population of America is of more recent origins, however.
In the 1970s, scientists in Australia established a breeding program to develop the perfect cashmere-producing goat based on feral goats roaming the continent. Their results were outstanding, and it was not long before Americans were inspired to enter the cashmere industry. Cashmere goats were subsequently imported from Australia and New Zealand in the late 1980s. This foundation was expanded with the influence of the Spanish meat goats common in the Desert Southwest and carefully selected for quality fiber.
Because of this mixed background, the American Cashmere population is not typically considered a true breed. However, it is a distinct type from the other goats found in North America, being uniquely suited to the production of soft, fine fiber. Both the Cashmere goat and the cashmere industry are new to the United States with a future yet to be determined, but they show great promise for niche marketers.
The primary use of the Cashmere goat is the production of the prized cashmere fiber. This comes from the goat’s soft undercoat and can be obtained either by shearing or by combing as the goat sheds. White fiber is preferred commercially, but there is a growing niche market for colored fiber for hand spinning.
Thanks to their relation to Spanish meat goats, Cashmere goats in America can also be raised for meat. This option is primarily pursued as a way of adding value to animals culled for low-quality fiber.
And, of course, the weed-eating abilities of these goats should not be overlooked, either.
The Cashmere goat, being a close relative of feral goats, tends to be keen and wary and may resist human handling. However, it is otherwise quite calm and manageable, not displaying the fence-jumping tendencies seen in many other breeds. Practically speaking, this means that any fence sufficient for sheep will contain a Cashmere goat.
Also in keeping with its feral background, the Cashmere doe bonds with her kids quite readily and makes a good mother.
The Cashmere goat is very healthy and requires only basic common-sense care to stay in good condition. As a matter of fact, the more naturally this type of goat is raised, the better the quality of its fleece. So let it browse to its heart’s content—it doesn’t need special feed, it just needs to be allowed to be a goat.
Likewise, the Cashmere goat does not need to live in a tight barn. A simple field shelter is quite sufficient. Note, however, that some shelter is definitely required. Cashmere goats need to be able to get out of the rain to stay healthy, avoiding hoof problems and internal parasites. A shelter will also protect very young kids from cold winds.
Cashmere goats are traditionally not dehorned. Not only do their horns provide a good grip for ease of handling, they may play a role in heat dissipation in the summer.
- Respect of good fences.
- Ability to survive with minimal shelter.
- Ability to thrive entirely on natural forage.
- Adaptability to most climates.
- Exceptional kidding ease.
- Good mothering ability.
- High-value fiber.
- Warmth, comfort, and durability of fiber.
- Rapid weight gain.
- Dislike of being handled.
- Tendency to shed valuable undercoat.