Archive for ‘Goats’

August 23, 2014

August

Moisture has been few and far between the last month. Yesterday the thunder started to roll but the storm past us to the west. I took the kids up to the pool about 2 and peak heat was 103. UGH!!! Yesterday evening the thunder was close again and I brought the clothes in off the line just in time for the sky to open up! The turkeys, being turkeys, couldn’t figure out where to go so I ran out to the barn and opened the small roving coop for them for shelter. I don’t know if they ever did end up going in the silly things!

We lost power at 6 and headed to town for a bite to eat, came home to a tree down in the front yard and debris that had plastered the front of the house even under the 6 foot roof overhang which I have never seen happen! Our favorite local weather people said there were 50-70 MPH straight line winds, that’ll do it! I have not checked the rain gauge but I’d say at least a good 1/4 inch if not 1/2 and bow howdy did we need it, every little bit!

Back to the turkeys, of the 4 we ordered, 3 survived past their 24 hours mark and have grown up! We have 2 toms and a hen and they have got to be one of the most entertaining animals here! They are also the best bug catchers which is great because the grasshoppers, like last year, are horrendous again. It was a very wet August last year and the mosquitoes were so so bad last year, not the same this year. Last year at this time Jeremiah was spending evenings and early mornings sitting still camouflaged behind a tree trying to call in the fox that had been eating our chickens. One morning it came in close enough to get a shot off but was just dark enough that he couldn’t for sure tell what it was and the chance was gone forever. They are hard ones to call in and catch, so they say. We have not seen that fox, knock on wood, nor have we lost any chickens this year!

Say hello to Tom and Tom! I just love these guys, so very talkative and they follow under foot like puppies. Just the past few weeks they’ve become very intent on trying to impress the hen who doesn’t seem to notice one way or the other. I find something interestingly beautiful about them. Normally their snoods (the piece of skin hanging off of their nose) is shrunk up above their beak and their necks and heads are a pale pink but when it’s time to impress, their snood grows and hang over their beak and their heads and necks turn bright red and blue.

 

A while back I was assured by a hunter we had over that we’d have a hard time keeping our turkeys from mingling, if not taking off with, the wild ones which are in great abundance here. In fact, we have 2 resident hens who hatched out 15+ poults between them and we often see them all in the back yard. They like to hang out in the pig’s pasture too in the tall grass. Two years in a row our turkeys haven’t seemed to pay any mind to the wild ones and visa versa so who knows. These guys have done well growth-wise and have been 100% free range since leaving the safety of the roving coop back when we butchered the broiler birds t 8 weeks old. They cost us next to nothing and really are so fun to have around! They spend most of the day hanging out with the pigs in the shade trees, most evenings they bed down in the middle of the barn yard in the grass. I am thinking maybe we ought to keep a tom and the hen over winter and see if she won’t set a nest in the spring. The poults aren’t too expensive to buy at all but it would be fun to have brand new baby turkey poults hatched out here.

Like I said, the fox hasn’t been around this year, thank goodness. There’s still time of course but so far so good. Two more hens, at lest, have hatched out more chicks since the last time I wrote. At about 4-5 weeks they leave the hen to live life on their own and we’ve lost some to hawks. I consider putting them in the large roving coop we use for the broilers but in the end, the survival of the luckiest plays out. The one Australorp whose nest I never did find has managed to keep all of her babies alive by sticking to the treed areas in the pigs’ pasture. Most of her babies are Australorps and hopefully got her good safety sense!

We’re down to 2 dry yearling left for sale who will be bred fairly soon here. All of the spring does have sold or are pending. I considered keeping one junior buck a a new herd sire but I can’t justify it keeping his sister, sire, dam, grand-dam etc. He’s leaving for his new home today in Northern Ks. We’ll have a few more older bred does for sale closer to the end of the year once they are dried off. Milk customers are keeping them here for now and with the up coming 2 year olds who will freshen next year and our new baby on the way, we have to keep our #’s down.

Our older sow is close to farrowing within the next week. I need to get her moved over to the farrowing pen to get settled in. She and our gilt will won’t be bred again until December giving the gilt a few more months to grow out to a good breeding age and our sow 3.5-4 months to recoup from this last litter. Normally I give her  a 2-2.5 month break between breedings which seems to be plenty for her but winter piglets proved to a lot more work than warmer weather piglets! It’s just a whole lot easier to raise piglets without the threat of cold weather.

Up until this summer the fencer we have for our high tensile electric has worked fine but the goats have taken a liking to going between the wires over into our neighbors front yard. Come to find out we’ve been running the wrong fencer and up until I put the rotational grazing poly wire fencing up for the goats in the woods it worked fine. However, now the drain of that poly wire has limited the distance of the “solid state” fencer we were running (thinking it was a low-impedance fencer this whole time) and was making the shock much less effective the farther away from the fencer the charge was so the goats were taking advantage of that. It was the “grassis always greener” way of thinking.  We chased that issue around for quite a while until we figured it out. Last Sunday we ran 3 more lines,  switched out the invisible fence for the dogs to the top line instead of the 2nd, made 2 of the lines “ground” wires and the rest are HOT HOT HOT! Hooked up the new fencer and boy does she pop!

What’s so nice about this fence is the lines are so quick to run. The three lines, after a trip to town for more insulators, took us as about an hour and a half. I run the wires down the line while Jeremiah insulates the wires with sleeves around the corner posts, crimps the wires and tightens the in-line strainer. Easy peasy and when we don’t overload the fencer with crappy poly-wire, it works great but when we load the new fencer with the poly wire, it’s not an issue!

Heading up for the last 6 round bales of hay today. It’s supposed to be another very hot one so I am very thankful we’re not bucking bales into the barn. It’s a little bit scary to see an empty barn this time of year! I am used to seeing it and 2 of the lean to’s bursting with small bales but they are all in rounds and we’re sticking with the pellets and with the pellets and hog feed in barrels, it takes up about as much room as 6 bales sitting in the ground and is such a space saver! I am not sure what I’ll do with the empty part of the barn but it sure is nice space to have available! =)

Man alive we had an issue with one of the does and tape worms this year! The end of June, she dropped weight like a ton of bricks, had constant diarrhea, eyelids went white and I really thought we’d loose her. None of the regular tape wormers I use (Valbazen usually) were working, I made up a special herbal wormer that helped a little, she rallied for a while but went right back after we got back from Ca. and literally, the diarrhea went on for over a month! I don’t know how on earth this doe is still alive! After finally doing a little more research I figured it had to be sort of a super tape, for lack of a better term, and tried Equimax horse wormer and WOW, WHAT AN IMMEDIATE DIFFERENCE IT MADE! That, along with Red Cell for the iron, B12 for her appetite and the other good nutrients and yogurt for the probios, she was perking right up, eating 100% better, diarrhea subsided within a couple of days and now she’s nearly back up to weight again and it didn’t take a 2 doses 10 days apart! I wormed the entire herd with that to be safe which I hate doing but as a precaution, I’d prefer it that way! Equimax also has Ivermectin and while it is a little pricier than some wormers, with it having both it’s my new go-to after freshening and for our kids as preventative!

At any rate, time to get going, lotsa work to get done today, first of which is coffee and getting that tree that fell cleaned up and cut up for fire wood. That will soon be upon us very soon and with as long as winter was last year, I’d like to have quite a bit more cut up than we’ve had in previous years. Better to be safe than out cutting wood when it’s freezing. =)

 

 

 

 

 

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July 22, 2014

Summer marches on

Yesterday’s heat was unbearable an these days with heat indexes over 110 are just crippling for me. The humidity is the biggest issue, I’m not used to it and the air is just oppressive. The flies are horrible even with all the chickens pulling duty in the barn and I just HATE going out to do chores and immediately dripping in sweat! This heat is hard on the pigs and even with all the shade trees they have in their pasture, their wallow and on-demand cool drinking water, I know they are not comfortable.

One of the hogs is being sent off for processing in a couple of weeks. We’re splitting it with a friend. It will be nice to have fresh bacon in the freezer again. Our sow is due at the end of August and it’ll be about time to take a load off to the processor again for customer orders. We’ve kept a gilt from the February litter in hopes of having a pair of breeding sows as the demand for feeder pigs and pork seems to be high. Our feeder pigs’ reservations is already full for August’s litter and we’ll be keeping a few back again to raise up to process.

In early May we had a couple of broody hens who eventually hatched out 19 chicks between them. We’ve lost some to hawks but there are still quite a few who will be good flock replacements for a culling I hope to do this fall of the older hens who have been here nearly 2 years now. When we arrived home from California, another hen (an Australorp I didn’t even notice was setting and still I have no idea where she was) had hatched out 8. Mostly all Australorps but a few Orpington mixes thrown in to break up all the black. Gosh, I just love the Australorps dark dark eggs!

With all this rain, the wildflowers have been amazing and the bees are busy busy busy working like crazy! Upon our return from California the grass was so thick and tall it left huge swaths of mulch in the mower’s wake. It almost looked like a hay field and leaving for near 2 weeks made our yard look like it hadn’t been touched in months! We’re thankful for the moisture!

I had an individual contact me before we left for Ca. about some buck kids I had for sale. He was looking for meat and eventually the conversation went to Halal butchering, something that I’ve been wanting to learn more about since reading a few studies and research on Halal/Kosher butchering in general. I hesitate whether I should mention this subject at all since it seems to be such a heated topic here and there but suffice to say it was an eye opening experience and one for which I am very thankful for. We met an interesting and intriguing individual and  were enlightened, neither of which I consider bad things at all! In fact, it seems as though it will probably turn out to be a gainful business opportunity as well, a win-win situation!

All of our buck kids have now been sold, I’ll be looking to move an adult buck on here in about a month or two and we’re down to just a few individuals for sale (mostly dry yearlings as I kept entirely too many kids back last year!). I am probably keeping more doe kids this year again but I’d really like to see how they grow out and develop. I’m really happy with Agent’s kids this year, all with great length of body and wonderful general appearance. We may be replacing an adult buck with a new jr. herdsire out of Melody and Agent, a beautiful blue roan dripping with dairy character. I am also keeping his litter mate sister as well.

Before we left for California we took a few days to process all of the meat chickens. The turkeys need more time to grow out but I have such a hard time saying goodbye to them. They are so personable and are the first to greet me with their noises when they see me coming to the barnyard. We started with 4 and lost one within a couple days of bringing it home. We were refunded for it but by that point the farm store was sold out which is just as well I guess. We’re down to three and just within the past week I’ve been able to determine we have one hen and 2 toms, or Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, as it were =).

Brome is baled now, wheat harvest is still going on and we’re waiting on the right cut of alfalfa to come in. With all the rain the alfalfa prices have been steadily dropping and I’m considering going back to hay again and going off of pellets. The  last round bale of alfalfa we got there was so little waste and the quality was excellent. I know there is always a min. guarantee of protein on the pellets but it’s most often grinding quality and some of the milkers either get sick of them or something is in them they just don’t prefer, either that or they are just picky which may totally be the case because everyone else devours them.

I have put off hanging out laundry long enough I suppose. It’s definitely not getting any cooler outside. That said, I’ll end for now. Life on the farm is pretty mundane most days although there is usually always something to liven things up just about the time when it seems sleepy. One such event happened 2 days ago when we were getting ready to run errands and Jeremiah heard a very strange noise coming from the woods. I had put the does in the temporary fenced off wooded area and one of the spring kids had gotten her head stuck in a plastic pumpkin that had apparently been taken off by the wind last fall. Not being able to see she freaked out naturally and was making some awful cries. Jeremiah saved her from a most certain horrible afternoon, she rejoined the herd and all was right with the world. She went running back her dam for sympathy, of which she got none. Silly creatures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 8, 2014

May already

Is it nearly May already? May 6th 7th 8th! I figure some day I may get this post up! It’s sad to say I started writing this the last part of April! About a week ago I was probably sitting by the wood stove keeping warm on a below average temp. day and yesterday I was sitting by our kitchen window drinking (eating?) a smoothie trying to keep cool!

One day has turned into another, as it usually often does. It’s been a whirlwind of activity around here!

Our (human) kids are almost out of school, it was one field trip or assembly or end of the year project(s) and goals to be met along with regular chores and kiddings and cold weather turning to warm.

We are done with kidding this year and all of our fresh does are milking well. We had 3 does kid in a single Saturday giving us 6 kids between them. Dawn had triples boys early one Saturday morning followed by Mags with a very good size flashy buck and doe out of Storm and Mischief ended the day with a single buck kid out of Andy.

Mischief and her buck kid and Morgan went on to their new homes the week before last. Several of the buck kids have found new homes and there are several individuals who are currently up for sale. The doe count wasn’t high this year but there are several that I would very much like to keep.

The count was:

Em: triplets (2 bucks & 1 doe)

Pejamy: twins (1 buck & 1 doe). Sadly Pejamy passed away one cold night. From what we are unsure, but given how quickly she went it’s probable it was pneumonia.

Flicker: twins (1 buck & 1 doe)

Ann: quads (3 does & 1 buck)

Apricot: twins (1 doe & 1 buck)

Dawn: triplets (3 bucks)

Mags: twins (1 buck & 1 doe)

Mischief: single (1 buck)

Melody: triplets (2 bucks & 1 doe)

Granite: single (1 doe)

March and April had us building a milk machine for a customer and dis-budding a lot of goat kids!

All but 2 of the piglets have gone on to their new homes. The smallest piglet developed a naval hernia and completely weaned herself from the sow when she was being offered a bottle twice a day, that turned into 3 times a day once she decided the bottle was better. I tried fixing the hernia several times with a few methods I read about online to no avail, she was just too small for it to work well. She was gaining weight but the amount of bottle feeding necessary was a lot of work. She habitated with the sows and her siblings fine but in the end, I felt she’d do better with more frequent feedings so she went to a home with lots of kids who could give her more attention than I could devote.

We’re keeping 2 piglets to raise up to butcher this fall. One’s for us, the other will be sold. Having piglets in February was a challenge and a learning experience but we got through okay. The hay usage for the goats was quite a lot more than usual and that tells me quite a bit about how “bad” the winter was. May 1 I had a fire in the wood stove to take the chill off Last year it snowed on May 2! However we’re in to thunderstorm season two Sunday’s ago it was sure nice to lay in bed an listen to the thunder roll through and the rain pour down.

The skeleton for the new milk barn was delivered and the metal roof went on the weekend before last (right after a storm and the sky offered the most beautiful backdrop!) . We were fortunate in that a neighbor (and master carpenter) generously helped us put up the trim pieces and what a hoot to watch him work knowing where to cut and bend the metal in all the places so it fit like a glove. It’s amazing how much faster the work goes when you’ve done it a time or two (or 500)! The work they got done in half a day surely would have taken Jeremiah and I at least 2!

 

Our bee hives are almost finished! Jeremiah and I built two beautiful top bar hives. Picking up the bees, however, has been put on hold. Apparently with the cold winter, separating the colonies has been delayed about 4 weeks which is just as well. I put a nice coat of linseed oil on the outside of the hives on Sunday to protect them from the weather.

Top Bar bee hive

 

We had a hard freeze come through about a week in to April which was about the same time last year as that ice storm we had that killed some of our newly planted fruit trees.  Those have since been replanted save for the apricot tree which we cannot find any locally! We put sheets around those that had blossoms this year and they seemed to fair very well. The pear and plum trees were loaded with fruit, I picked most of them so the tree puts nutrition into growth. We want big strong trees and not a lot of fruit the first couple of years.

I bought some heated seed mats in March to try out and suffice to say I wish I had gotten them sooner! What a difference in germination time they made! After using both cold frames to keep plants and the greenhouse we put up last year, I will say starting seeds in the cold frames had much better results. It may have been because the winter I used the cold frames were a lot less harsh than the past 2 (particularly this past winter), but it probably also had a lot to do with area. The cold frames did not loose the heat near as much as the greenhouse.

The greenhouse does a great job once the seeds have germinated. I started half of the seeds in the greenhouse this year and half in the house. Of those I started in the house, the 2nd half (mostly melons, squash, herbs and a few tomatoes and peppers) were started on the heat mats and compared to everything else seemed like light years faster. From now on I’ll start everything on the mats and move them out to the greenhouse at a few days old.

Unfortunately, our kitchen window is north facing and if not moved out fairly soon after germinating, even when rotated on the shelf, they can get “leggy” but once they germinated I’d move them into the greenhouse within a day or so. As long as the nights didn’t fall well below freezing, the greenhouse does very well for us. On the vry cold nights, I cover everything with additional plastic and sheeting right over the top of the plants. Additionally, it’s really nice to be in the the greenhouse when it’s chilly (and windy) outside. I found myself at times stopping off on the way to the barn to step inside and warm up! Planting seeds in there early spring is really nice.

Not knowing what the germination would be on some of my seeds, I over planted putting 2-3 seeds per pot. You’re supposed to pick/pull the smaller of the plants and allow the more growthy one to continue to grow in single pots but I can’t bear to sacrifice plants like that so the tomatoes and the tomatillos I  separated and transplanted. I completely forgot to even start tomatillos last year. This year I planted 40 seeds hoping to get a few (the seeds were 3 years old and last year I wasn’t all that careful about how I kept my seeds), 36 germinated! There’s a lot of tomatillos!!! I always go overboard with the tomatoes too. My Mom send me home at Christmas with 3 heirloom varieties to try I planted those along with several of my favorites including Kellogg’s Breakfast (a HUGE meaty yellow tomato).  The jalapeno seeds must have been no good because not a single one germinated so I started some from new but I don’t think they’ll be big enough to plant for a while. Everything else looks great though and I am really excited about the lemon grass that I started from seed. I’ve never grown lemon grass.

It’s almost time to put the majority of the plants in the ground. “Back Home” in Northern Cal. we aimed to have everything in by Mother’s Day. I aim for the same here see as how the last frost date is 2 weeks in to May. Nevertheless, the spring onions are ready for picking anyway and that has made me feel less like I am “behind”. Just this morning I got the entire garden tilled. After a few scoops of some compost that’s been “cooking” for a year and another till, we’ll be all set to plant Saturday.

We’ve decided to put drip irrigation in the garden. We’ll plant the entire garden and then install the hoses and drippers/sprayers so we’ll know where to place them. We really ought to do something like that for the fruit trees too. I water every Saturday as it is. I think the drip irrigation would save a lot of water. We get some pretty high winds here and I don’t always have the time to water everything by hand when the wind takes the sprinkler water and waters everything BUT the garden. It should be such a time saver!

The “meat chicks” arrived a week ago Thursday! They’ll be out on pasture in about 2 more week!

Well, I am sure I could go on and on about the goings on around here but I’ll end for now. Happy May!!!

 

 

 

January 21, 2014

A week in photos

It was such a busy week! I managed to finish Rachel’s quilt for her 10th birthday, a project that’s been 2 years in the making. I fall into UFO (unfinished object) funks and quilts in particular fall to the wayside unfortunately but finishing it has given me renewed vigor to finish a few that have been on the back burner.

This was a sentiment I heard at one time. I don’t know the author to credit but suffice to say, these are borrowed words.

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King and Snow doing what King and Snow do. The sun’s out and it’s day time which means they snooze and relax and keep watch.

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snow

Sunday was gorgeous and the goats were thoroughly enjoying the sunshine. We finally got the round bales off the trailer. The girls had pretty much eaten one entire bale down to 1/4 of what it started as. We unloaded it into the barnyard so they could munch on it. Most of them just turned in into a cozy bed . Most of the does are bred, some further along than others. It’s a time of growing good healthy babies!

Mother Daughter Flicker and Bourbon

Mother Daughter Flicker and Bourbon

hay bale free for all

Granite

Granite

While there isn’t a whole lot to eat from the looks of it, the pigs enjoy nibbling the grasses and rooting up tasty things. Ann is due to farrow around February 14.

Ann

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The chickens still range in the winter and find tasty tidbits to eat, there was still a little snow on the ground last week.

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Sunday Jeremiah and I finished the greenhouse by installing the back window and the plastic on front and back. we also put pipe insulation over the end of the panel and maybe that will cause a little less wear and tear. The strips of lumber that the plastic is rolled up in seems to be doing a good job. We had some pretty forceful winds last night and all it all looks good.I am so eager to start seeds. I went through what I saved from last year and what was left over. I hope to start a lot of flower seeds this year along with all the veg.

Front

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back

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greenhouse window from inside

Em kidded on Sunday while we worked on the greenhouse. I checked on her every so often. The first kid (boy) was totally breech but he delivered fine. The 2nd kid (doe) was still encased in her sack. I am glad I was there. Usually they are not delivered in their sack and there is no obstruction. When they are, if the doe is not attentive or there isn’t anyone there, they generally suffocate. The 3rd kid (a buck) was delivered about 20 minutes later without incident and Em looks fantastic. Shes enjoying a stall to herself to get to know her kids. I’ll post more photos later, these kids are super flashy!

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The following photo was not taken last week, but it is a reminder that we have our nuc colonies ordered from Butler Bees. Jeremiah and I are going to tackle the top bar bee hives and leave the langstroth hives to the construction class.

Well, there it was. We were at an auction Saturday and managed to bring home a pretty decent haul of lumber, a huge miscellaneous lot of trim/moulding/baseboards, 125 sheets of sheet rock and 13+ new bundles of shingles. I haven’t yet decided if we’ll shingle the new milk house, I’ll have to chew on that some more. We’re trying to stay somewhat color & material coordinated, the shingles on the house are brown, everything else is metal. We’re going with metal.

November 20, 2013

November now…

Last week the wind howled here in central Kansas and we were watching the last of the leaves fly off the trees. Two mornings were bitterly cold with wicked wind chills in to the teens and 20’s. I don’t mind the cold but the wind chills just cuts right through everything.

The animals don’t seem to mind the cold yet too much. One of the bucks got his head stuck in a feeder last Monday night and stayed stuck until I found him Tuesday morning. It took a bit of manipulation to get him out and fortunately he was no worse for the wear though they did say the windchill over night was something like 13 degrees and he didn’t have a single bit of protection. I did not have kind words for him as I tried to wrangle him out of that feeder from the outside of the fence. I was not about to get in there with 3 other bucks intend on having their way with me. I preoccupied them with some alfalfa which sent the stuck buck into a frenzy wanting some too which made getting him out even harder! I was eventually successful however!

Last week we got a roof put onto the small roving coop that I use as a grow out pen for the chicks. We also put in a few roost rungs. The Sept. chicks have nearly outgrown it and we need to move them into the roving coop we made for the meat chickens, but that needs roosts too.

I expect to be putting new eggs into the incubator about January. A few of the last incubated Sept. batch were roosters and of the 2nd batch, 2 of the 6 chicks I picked up from the farm store were roosters as well. I feather sexed all those but they were already a couple of weeks old and it’s supposed to be impossible to tell at that point so I was taking a shot in the dark on a straight run. They’re 2.5 months old at this point and left for their new home yesterday and now the roving coup is a little more spacious =).

We kept 12 meat chickens back for ourselves when we butchered in Sept. to grow them out a little longer. Some do tend to be on the slower growth scale as they do not get as much food as the others. We butchered 6 the weekend before last and left 6 seeing as how most of them were really close to laying eggs. I felt kinda of bad actually to loose laying age hens but they didn’t start out as intended layers anyway. I really never planned to keep these as long as we did but they all look so great so I’d like to see how they do.

The pigs are well,  they spend cold mornings burrowed under the straw in their shelter. We’re thinking about possibly butchering out the boar but still haven’t made a final decision on that. We may have piglets again as early as Feb 14. Kinda wishing I had kept them separated a little longer for a March litter but February it may be. We’ll just have to see.

Snow and King’s 2 pups are reserved. The male will be hitching a ride with us to California when we go for Christmas and will be going to a friend of mine and the female will be staying somewhat local in Marion, Ks. Her new family came to meet her on Wednesday. They’ll be fantastic for each other.

Goat breeding has been entirely strange! We went about 2 months it seemed with few of the does coming in to a good strong heat and now its seems like it’s one right after another. I don’t know what that’s all about, maybe the weather. I have just one doe due in January, 2 in Feb and 2 in March. I don’t particularly like kidding in the freezing cold but I do like the earlier kids. The first doe will bring milk production back up as we’re winding down on the other does now and drying them off one by one except the yearlings who are still going really strong and should right on through Christmas.

We’re having the high school building construction class build our milk barn. Time is slipping away for us while we work on other projects and we’ve been waiting for the 2nd trimester to start for them as to give them ample time to get it done. It’s a great experience for the kids. We went and looked at metal siding and roofing last Friday so everything is ready for them to start and hopefully by January we’ll have it delivered and it’ll be ready to milk in once babies start hitting the ground. More than anything I want the separate processing area with counter and sink instead of having to lug the milk bucket up to the house. Making cheese and soap out there is also part of the plan as well. I’d love to find a small wine fridge for cheeses to put out there!

Jeremiah and the kids spent part of Sunday splitting wood and got the majority of what was in rounds completely split with the help of the 3 girls who belong to a friend that are staying with us for the week. The log splitter has been a life saver this year! It was a life saver last year too but it has been especially handy this year as we’ve been behind and didn’t even start the bulk of the cutting in Oct. like we normally do. We pulled several large logs this out of the woods this past spring but have mainly just had large piles of rounds waiting for the time to split it. After last winter being so long, we had maybe 2 weeks worth of wood left to burn that was pre-split and stacked this spring when all was said and done. We’re nearly through that now but have been building up the supply right behind it and we’ll do more than we normally do if the weather prediction is any indication of how much we might need! They all did a terrific job.

Last year I joked with the kids that it would be really nice if we could get enough split and stacked to cover us for the winter plus half of another so we were always ahead if we continue to split at the same rate. Well, last winter proved to require quite a bit more than the previous. So much for being ahead half a year =).

The evenings get dark so quickly that doing anything outside with any decent amount of light after Jeremiah gets home from work is pretty much unheard of so we try to take full advantage of the weekends, especially the nice ones! 

There are several craft fairs coming up that we’ll be at and a community project that we’re gearing up for. Today I am hitting the machine to make a few quick craft projects that should be really fun! It hardly seems possible that Thanksgiving is nearly upon us! Once school starts in the fall the days just fly by. My Grandma always used to tell me that time moves even quicker once you are grown up. I never did understand her…until now. Gosh.

The broccoli and cabbage in the garden are looking pretty bedraggled after last weeks over night temps and I think it’s about time to put the pigs out there to clean it up. All of the garden tools have been put up now and the yard cleared of summer things. It’s time for the earth to rest and renew.

And with that said, it’s time to start a new day!

Have a great week!

 

September 9, 2013

Farm update: September

What a busy summer it’s been! Each morning as I begin l livestock chores there is almost a smell of fall in the air. It’s not quite here yet but I expect it very soon.

Garden:

The garden has done very well for us this year and continues to. This morning I cut the dying sunflower blooms off of their stalks and will dry them to use the seeds next summer. We had very lovely sunflowers this year!

Some of the heirloom tomatoes are just starting to ripen while the cherries, romas and “standards” have been producing for a while. In fact, I have a pot of water on the stove as I type this getting ready to sterilize some jars as I made tomato sauce on Saturday that I need to can. A friend of mine gave me a gallon of homemade grape juice from her own grapes that I will be making in to grape jelly too.  I intend to start a verde sauce today with the Anaheim chilies. The pepper plants did extremely well this year and we’ve been eating jalapeno poppers quite often which is quite OK by us, we love them!

We’ve been enjoying melons for several weeks and green beans and eggplant. The potatoes are ready to dig. I dug some about 2 weeks ago and we had tasty fried taters with steak that night!

The bugs have been very bad this year though, no doubt due to the all the rain we got in August. I lost most of the broccoli and cabbage but I left the plants and they seem to be coming back so I think grasshopper season has passed. We put “Turkena” the turkey in the garden and she did a good job keeping the bugs down but there’s only so much one turkey can do! The carrots are just about ready to pull up and they look really good. I planted them in May and just put another hand full of seeds into the ground for carrots later on. I should get some cabbage and broccoli and all the cool weather crops started soon too.

Growing the cucumbers and melons vertically this year turned out to be a very great thing! I was super happy with the results and it’s something I plan to do again next year.

The greenhouse will need a little help before next season, I think we’ll go ahead and board up the “front” and “back”. The wind was quite unkind to the plastic in that area but over the hoop it held up beautifully and it did such an amazing job for us getting our seeds started early.

Animals:

2 of the does were bred last month for late January kids but after reading the Farmer’s Almanac Prediction for this winter I have to wonder if holding them to kid in July may not be better =). The first fresheners who kidded in June are producing beautifully. We weathered all the kids and I think I will try to see if I can keep them in milk over Christmas when we go to California so we have milk again when we come back. Though it does mean I won’t get a break except while we’re gone and I really enjoy that break! I guess we’ll play that by ear.

The piglets are growing so well, this weekend the boys who are not going to breeding homes will be castrated and next week they will head off to their new homes. I have really enjoyed them tremendously…so active and lively. Ann has been such a great mother and milk producer and it’s just been such a wonderful experience. I really look forward to another litter some time next year.

We have a fox back that has taken a few chickens. One morning about a month ago I was enjoying coffee at the kitchen table looking out onto the back yard around 6:30 in the morning and saw one jet across the yard with a chicken nearly in its jaws. I screamed bloody murder at it waking the entire house and it was either do that and have it run away or not scream at it and have it run away with my hen in its mouth…either way there was little chance we’d get a shot off. It stood there for a while and looked at me like ‘what did I do?’.

Jeremiah has been calling it in for several mornings now and saw it yesterday but it’s was just dark enough he couldn’t tell for 100% certainty that it was indeed a fox so he left it be and it’s not responded to the call since,  little bugger.

We’ve scheduled to butcher up this second batch of meat chickens for several weekends now but it’s just been so hot that it wouldn’t be at all fun but temps look like they’ll be in the 80’s this coming weekend and it’s now or never. They are small turkeys at this point and need to be processed. They all still look fantastic though and I was happier with this batch over the last and I was really quite happy with the last batch too! But I think with all the rain we had in August, the grass was so green and there were so many bugs these grew so very well. It’s definitely something we’ll do again next year and I even considered doing another batch this summer/fall because I had more customers than I had birds but I worry about volatile weather and the grass is starting to turn and I think it’s just best if we call it a summer on those.

Speaking of this weekend though, it’s the dairy goat show at the Kansas State Fair. We’re not going. I was worried I’d be sad that we weren’t but to be truthful, it’s a huge relief! We’ve just been busy and thinking about clipping everyone up again is just not on my top list of things I want to do. Everyone is milking well and I’d like to keep it that way. Not to mention the cost involved and the running back and forth and hugely early mornings and late nights, I’ll be happy to be the spectator and the helper, if it’s needed…if we even get down there for the show once all the chickens are done and there’s a lot of them…for us anyway, over 60 but we’ll have a butchering trailer this time with chicken plucker. I don’t mind plucking and it doesn’t take me very long but if I can save my hands and joints the work for as inexpensive as it is to rent, I’m all for that.

Rachel wanted specific chickens to raise for 4-H this year and after a few delays our local farm store finally got their chicks in this past Friday. I went down there and picked out 6 for her- 3 buff orpingtons and 3 barred rocks. I also have a batch in the incubator right now that will be ready to go on lock down tomorrow. I put in 16, one didn’t look to be fertile after a week and another just quit growing so of the 16, I have 14 left and they all look very good. Each new batch seems to better and better in the incubator and maybe this time we’ll be close to 75% hatch rate. I like raising chicks this time of year because it’s still warm enough most days not to need a heat lamp and by the time it turns cold they are ready to be outside with the other chickens.

General:

I’ve chosen a design for the new milk barn and we intend to start on that once the weather turns a bit cooler. I don’t know that we’ll get it done before winter but the mere fact the water and electric is in was one big step for us.

All this work around the farm means sometimes the house goes to the wayside and we’re always in a constant state of remodel. Several weekends ago I drug out the paint brush and paint and got to work putting high gloss white on baseboards and trim. We completely gutted and remodeled a 2 bedroom rental house in town and after painting nearly that entire thing alone, I seriously have a bad taste in my mouth for painting and have a hard time bringing myself to even think about putting a drop of pain on anything! But, I figure if I do a little at a time eventually it’ll all get done….maybe! Maybe though the stuff that was painted a long time ago will need to be RE-painted again! UGH!

We’ve been talking for the past couple of years of putting in one of those really large stand alone wood stoves  and piping it into the house via the existing duct work. This may be the fall to really do it instead of just talking about it.  As October approaches we start to think about wood cutting and splitting and that’s a chore that will be upon us soon. We had very little left last season. It seems we went through quite a bit and by all accounts I think it was a pretty mild winter…long, but mild. After taking a weekend in March and gathering rounds and logs from the woods and putting them in our wood cutting area, it’s all ready to go into the wood splitter.

The children went back to school just after Labor Day and I am back to being alone during the day, it’s a little lonely but I get a lot more sewing done. I am back to quilting on Rachel’s quilt and have just the smallest amount left to do. Then I can bind it and it’ll be ready! It should serve her well if it’s real cold this winter. The batting I used was bamboo fleece, it’s a heavy quilt! Several other project have been keeping me busy along with the cloth diapers.

Well, I promised the children I’d take them to the fair today and tonight is the demolition derby we intend to watch with friends. I don’t understand how people can visit the fair every day but it seem there are lots and lots of people who will go nearly everyday. It’s just too hot and crowded for me to do that more than once!

I suppose that’s about all for now. The pressure cooker is whistling at me so I need to start timing my ‘mater sauce and switch over the sprinkler for the garden. I hope you have a wonderful rest of the week!

April 13, 2012

Just photos

February 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday-photos for fun

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December 29, 2011

High Tensile for Goats – Revisited

High Tensile 1

This time last year I was researching the best fencing options for goats. We’ve used several in the past to include welded wire and woven wire, but the cost and work (read: stretching and seaming*) involved to put woven wire (as we will never again use welded wire for goats) around 15 acres with hills and heavily wooded areas would be astronomical. Upkeep was a big concern too.

I had read that high tensile wire, even if electrified, will not keep a goat in. I read from others that it will… providing you have a minimum of 8 wires (not gonna happen!). After a whole lotta research, a whole lotta reviews, we decided we were going to put it anyway with 4-5 strands, despite naysayers.

High tensile should not be confused with other electric wire fencing. High tensile is a lot thicker than the average electric fence wire and needs to be installed with an in-line strainer  within each line. The system also require special insulators (pin lock) and is a complete fencing system rather than a partial fencing/deterrent/back up system as most other electric wire fencing. Granted, we have seen some keep in herds of cattle with  temporary single line electric wires, but these are usually only for rotational grazing on fields that aren’t a herd’s normal grazing parcel and often times the cattle are trailer-ed to these parcels.

I am here to say that after a 8 months of ‘normal’ (for us) use, given the right conditions (which I’ll explain later), high tensile wire in 4-5 strands works fabulous, is easy on the pocket book (and actually SAVED/SAVES money), will last longer and keep the goats in to boot! In total, replacing several wooden  corner posts, reusing many of the t-posts from the old fence and buying used ones, the Wedge-Loc components, wire and insulators, to fence the entire property was about $2000. Anything else would have been at least double that, without taking into consideration the work stretching it which is my LEAST favorite part. Stretching woven wire vs. high tensile, well, there is no comparison!

http://herdmarmalade.blogspot.com/2011/03/for-love-of-high-tensile.html

Now, we’re set off a main road but on a main road nonetheless. The goats are quite a ways back off the main road and we have neighbors on both sides with nothing else out there besides property.  If the goats had access close to the main road, I would consider something else (cattle panels perhaps?) along that stretch mainly because, while I would doubt they’d go through it under most circumstances, I’d be afraid that if conditions were right ( predator attack) they’d do whatever was necessary to get away, including going through the fence to the road. But as it is, they are quite a ways from the road. I know and have seen people run their goats along roads with just a few strands of wire, but for us, if it were a question of them being along the road, we’d use a different type.

The goats have the run on much of our acreage. We needed to be mindful of fencing that would work well with other animals too (namely horses). The prior fencing (non-electrified) twisted non-barbed 4 strand wire was falling down, posts were rotting etc. which is the main reason we wanted to replace it. We could have simply -probably- strung a few electric wires on our side with insulators and called it a day, but being as how the whole fence was 30+ year old, it was time to come out.

I would not use this type of fencing for pens or smaller (i.e. less than 1/2 an acre) enclosures where the ‘pressure’ would be high. I would go cattle panels all the way there. We’ve been extremely happy with the panes performance in high pressure enclosures.Expensive yes, but east of use and durability can’t be beat!

Putting in woven wire would have required so many wooden posts that it would have blown the fence budget. Not to mention, if a goat got the urge, they will stand on that stuff and with the woods we have, and ice storms, if a tree were to fall on it, we’d be seaming and stretching* another piece back in. Not my idea of a good time. This high tensile is supposed to be very bouncy. It actually is very bouncy (read: limbs on line*).

Most said said that the part that takes the longest is the stringing of any type of fence. Not this fencing! The part that took the longest was the removal of the old fencing and posts! The stringing, once the end/corner posts are sunk, goes quick! It can be a one person job but Jeremiah and I got into a good rhythm and were both pretty much working all of the time in sync. Some jobs, you know, require help only some of the time so one person may be sitting there getting bored.  After the first line goes up (which acts as your guide wire pretty much), between your two set posts, we’d just go along and sink t-posts in. After that he’d start stringing another line, I’d start in putting up insulators and it’s history from there.

I do recommend tightening your first wire with your inline strainer before putting in any more wires (or your line posts) or running a guide wire as with any other type of fence but shy not save time and sip that step and just use the first wire? As for wooden posts, we only used theme every 30-60 feet or so (depended on the terrain, ours is hilly with some straight aways). Our t-posts required closer setting and we determined that spacing based on where the wire as coming too high off the ground (valleys) or hitting the ground (hills). If you have nothing but flat property, they say you can get away with farther spaced line posts, and it’s actually recommended as this fence was designed for long stretches which helps with bounce back, though batten spacers are recommended to keep your lines evenly spaced . You try long spances between any posts with any other type of fencing, and the outcome will not be good.

I am happier with the wooden corner posts than I am with the t-post  we used with the Wedge Loc system to create our “Z” braces at (1) start and (1) corner. In the future we may loosen up the fence at the in-line strainers and replace them with wooden but they are holding up just fine under the strain…they just bowed naturally in the middle. We didn’t use two to create one ‘post’ like some recommended for strength, I seriously doubt it would have made much of a difference though may not have bowed with a second. It’d more for looks that we’d like to replace with wooden than anything.

The Wedge-Loc system  made putting in braces go so quickly and we did use them for corners, places where we put in cross fencing and where the fences started both on the wooden posts and t posts! So far, they’ve held up fine. Time will tell how well they weather though they are made from alunimum so there’s no reason they should corrode, etc.  (As for stability,  strength, and speed, they are fabulous and can’t be beat.!)

High tensile beginning brace
We started out using a t-post for a corner post and while it has held up just as well as a wooden one in terms of the pull on it, it did bow a little in the center (which has not affected anything) but is not as aesthetically pleasing as a wooden post. You could weld 2 t posts together for the corners but it will not work with the Wedge-Loc system. You’ll need to weld your braces on too, which isn’t a big deal, if you weld, which hubby does, but this works just fine.
High tensile cross fence corner
This is actually a cross fence section, not a corner but  we prefer starting a fence with a wooden post as opposed to a t-post

As for how it’s holding the goats in? Just fine, BUT, as with any electric fence, YOU MUST TRAIN THEM TO IT! We started out in an acre section (mostly because that’s what was up). As I explained in an earlier post, I stood on one side with grain and pretty much let them walk in to it. It only took the adults once to learn that they wanted nothing to do with the fence. For that 1 acre section, we did put in 5 strands with the first being a mere 6″ off the ground. At the time we had small kids, and will have them again and we want them to know what the fence is and that it’s not something you really want to mess with. Occasionally they’d get too close but unless the fence is off, they stick to the ‘right’ side of the fence.

In addition to training them to it, you need a fencer big enough to do the job you are wanting it to do. Too small a fencer will get you nothing but a weak to non-working fence somewhere in the line. Making sure that your lines aren’t arcing and your system is property grounded is important too. Gallagher has some info we found useful.

For the majority of the property, we went with 4 strands set at 8″, 10″, 12″ and 12″. For the acre parcel they were set ay 6″, 8″, 8″, 10″ and 12″ apart- 5 strands. For the bucks pasture (in which we only did 5 strand as a cross fence which will separate them from the does as the rest of it is property line), they are set at 8″, 10″ 10″, 12″ and 12″ apart. We have yet to test the bucks in pasture in rut with cycling females as of yet because by the time the breeding season started, with so little rain, there wasn’t enough forage to bother with putting them out to pasture on. So, time will tell if the electric fence will be any match for that. I am thinking, however, we’ll go ahead and cross fence a few more sections so that the does cannot be right up against the fence to tested them and thus the fence will not need to be tested to the max nor will there be any chance for the situation to be inhumane if the bucks or does continually test the fence trying to get to one another.

To date we’ve had several large limbs* fall onto the fence and we’ve just lifted them off and the fence bounces right back. We do go around with the weed eater occasionally though we could solve this by taking the lowest line(s) off the ‘juice” eliminating grounding. However, right now we have them on for predators or nuisances…but then that’s where King, the LGD, comes in. He doesn’t like intruders.

The fence keeps the dog in and even though he’s not out there all the time (he spends his days near the house in the back yard and some nights as well). I am pretty sure deer are not coming onto the property at all any more either. I think this is partially to do with the electric, though they can easily clear the lines in a single bound. More than likely though, it’s because of the dog. I don’t mind deer except for the fact they can carry deadly (to goats) parasites. So, best if they just keep off.

Anyway, we’re extremely satisfied with the high-tensile fencing to say the least!

I’ve included some sites that we found useful when researching and installing. Happy fencing!



http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/442/442-132/442-132.html


http://www.dareproducts.com/pdf_s/DARE_htfs.pdf

http://www.maxflex.com/HTsmooth_wire.htm

http://www.zarebasystems.com/store/electric-fence-high-tensile

http://www.premier1supplies.com/list.php?mode=list&cat_id=51

May 16, 2011

Do you see what I see?

PJ in the woods
What makes goats happy!