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Let me tell you a little about us.
We are both from out of state and came to Nebraska many years ago.
Thousands of miles and many adventures have passed in our lives long before we came to this little place outside
This little house has been very good to us, she has provided warmth in the brutally cold Nebraska winters and shelter for storms that shook the earth and made me cry. A cool hide-a-way for the dogs and us to escape from the humid hot summer days.
We moved to our acreage in the summer of 2003 after living on a 2500 head working cattle feed lot. As you can imagine Goats and Sheep where the furthest thing from our minds then. While at the feed lot we created a small home based business of breeding and raising tropical Angel Fish; contracting with local merchants from Columbus, NE. to Kearney, NE. and several privately owned Pet Stores in between. We produced beautiful large fish for the Angel Fish fanciers of
We looked for a piece of land that we could call our own; so many acreages for sale and all of them contained a "But". Nice place "But", the barn is okay "But" the needs too much work. Nice house "But" we wouldn't have room to grow. Finally we came across an ad in the local paper 24 acres for sale. We had to go look and Poof.. Not one "But" in the story and we bought it that night for the asking price. It has been the right place for us so far.
When we moved in, it didn't take long to learn that the water was not the same and our Angel Fish didn’t take to the breeding program like before.
The smaller house but larger acerage provided less space indoors for all the aquariums we owned. And soon we began to sell all but a few tanks; making the switched from fins to feathers, fur, hooves and wool.
The photo above is from half way to the house on our driveway in 2003.
As our horses aged beyond the ability to be ridden and my ranch dog 2e slowed down and became a speed bump for the kids rushing in and out of the doorway; we began to add critters to help us; Guineas to control the many assorted bugs and mainly ticks that use to freely wonder the feilds. Then came Goats, Calves & Sheep to tend to the weeds and grasses in the pastures and around some of the tree line.
Just for fun; a new Aussie pup; Sneaker who we purchased a year before we left the feed lot was taken to a breeder and later gave us seven beautiful pups; of which we kept three. Weren't they cute.... Watch your step!
As the years have rolled along we have multiplied in all directions.
After buying the first pearl guineas not far from the house and another 23 mixed colors from the Madison Sale that fall; we were well on our way to having them from that day forward. At one point we had over 265 free range guinea fowl that came back to the guinea house or close to it every night.
We now house about 50 thru the winter and add a few from the spring sale every year, we receive orders for guineas all summer long and can rarely supply enough for all of those who want them.
Our pygmy’s came about 2 years later after a long story about a wild eyed Dahl sheep who could clear a 6’ fence in the snap. We were forced to chain a tire to him to keep him in – Hence the name "Royal" as it was a Uni-Royal tire that kept him in the fence. We had enough of that stress and negotiated with a man north of town; trading Royal off for two Pygmy Does heavy with kids. Mawma & White later gave us two bucklings and two doelings.
Since then, we have added new members to our flock and sold so many of them to great families all over our region.
We have learned in some cases by trial and error the specific needs and demands that come with owning goats; including the awareness that they are not as tough as we once thought.
Falling in love with the breed, pygmy goats are addictive; you can't have just one. They are the perfect size, loaded with personality and are much smarter then we had expected them to be. For us, they are the perfect breed.
Another blessing came to us in the for of four Scottish Highland Calves in 2007. Our small herd of purebred Highland Cows have given birth for the first time in 2010; blessing us with a one beautiful red heifer calf and a very nice bull calf.
Adding new faces in 2009 and another hand full in the summer of 2010 with the purchase of two small flocks of Navajo Churro’s that have sparked a new direction to the place and we will see where that takes us if anywhere at all in the coming years.
In a fairly big “nutshell” this is how we have come to be at Absent Jack Acres, the home of Critter Crazy on Poverty Flats near
We are hoping to build a new way of selling our goats, lambs and creative ideas to those that looking for a better way to care for their animals with out going broke doing it.
The plan to offer hand crafts, pet snacks, art work, creative designs and plenty of recycle ideas on this site as time rolls on. We are finding that it will take a lot of time to build this website for you; but a good herd and sound care didn’t happen over night and many mistakes will be made and corrected, compromised, changed and reworked as time goes on.
God Bless and Welcome to Absent Jack Acres;
Shannon & Glenn
You can also read the occassional updates on my blog at :
The area that we live in is known as ďPoverty FlatsĒ by the local Old Timers; with sandy soil just a few inches below the grass line that bares very low quality forage for traditional livestock. In general unless you put a lot of work or chemicals into it each year drought tolerant weeds like this area the best, especially since we do not have an irrigation system short of garden hose.
When we moved here the ditch weed reached above the cab of the tractor, years of fence wire that ad been crushed by snow fall and livestock and replaced with removing the old wire framed the commons. Sand burs, thistles and cockle burs grew ramped and unchecked; well drained soil also meant that we had a major issue with ticks, grass hoppers, grubs and other unpleasant bugs. Not willing to dump more toxins on the ground, we needed to look at different ways to get a handle on these issues.
What started out to be a place for the horses turned into a place to research ďNatural bug, weed and foliage controlĒ.
I had seen
Then the introduction of two pint sized Pygmy goats. We wanted something small so we chose Pygmy Goats because we didnít want anything that would be able to jump up on a tractor or pick up, we didnít want a dairy breed so the Nigerian was not going to happen here and it seemed like Pygmy would be the perfect size for the small area that we started them on. It quickly turned into a breeding program, expanded the fences just for them. We began to target color and personality, selling kid goats to so many wonderful people across the region. Along with the breeding program we began to see that the meadows that we gave to the pygmy goats no longer had sand burs growing to full bloom. Obviously they enjoy the green taste of the young plant and virtually have eliminated them from their field. That was exciting.
After selling the horses it was time to look into a species that would do well on the poor pasture forage; with out the fences being safe for tiny goats we knew that this was going to have to be a bovine of something that size. The consideration of Yaks was one option but the price and distance involved to bring a few here was not in the budget. Choice number two was Highland Cattle. An opportunity presented itís self when a friend told us about a few for sale only about an hour from here; we bought 3 babies that have now turned into our base herd. The Highlanders can live on minimal quality forage and need very little additional attention short of the normal worming and mineral tub to keep them in optimum condition. So far they have been a wonderful and interesting part of the main pasture. Sight seers love to stop and take pictures of them when they are in full hair and they are so darned cute.
With the fencing of another portion of the main pasture and bringing in a building for more hay storage as well and a loafing room we started looking for the final critter that we wanted for the weed control; sheep.. But what kind would be better for us? We looked, talked to people and decided that traditional club or market sheep from the area were not going to fit into our picture of fun. We looked at the Katahdinís and Dorperís, both hair sheep breeds that donít require shearing, we thought of the Icelandicís but they are all too big for either of us to handle or house. Once again and opportunity presented itís self; Navajo Churroís. Interesting! Medium size, hair breed <still requires shearing>, easy lambing, disease resistant, survive well on minimal quality feed. Perfect!
Introducing the first small flock of Navajo sheep to the place last fall and an addition that includes several rams this past summer has given us a group that is both colorful and interesting. They are not much bigger then the pygmy goats, making them not so much of a threat when the two species are mixed from time to time through the year. We are anxious to see how and what the Navajoís can do for the weed and forage control in the meadows.
We have learned over the years that our little acreage along with the surrounding area happens to be one of the stop, rest, feed and reproduction sites for the beautiful Monarch Butterfly ( Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) )
Oictured here is a female, slightly smaller then the male bute darker and more defined in color.
We are thrilled to see them traveling through two times each season and some that actually stay for the summer here to reproduce by laying eggs on the indigenous wild milkweeds.
In sworms of houndreds they come and go; dancinging in the breeze as if a whimzickle song plays to only them. Such a beautiful thing.
The male is larger, but not much and slightly diferent in color; more pale.
The differance is obvious when the photos are presented side by side; but for the unskilled it is nearly impossible to see their individual beauty as they move through the air or rest on a leaf.
Either way; this amazing creature is a welcomed part of our spring and fall activities here and we look forward to seeing them every year.