goats



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Old shed in background

I think its time to update you all on how the pallet barn/shed is coming along. This past summer I was able to commit myself to emptying out the existing shed and tearing it down before it fell in on everything, or on someone. It was completely rotting away due to a hole in the roof and the wet area it was set on. I had my friend come over to help tear it down to the base. I hauled away the material

Shed is down.

because none of it was worthy of recycling in this project. I am going to make use of other material that are recycled.  The run to the dump was probably the heaviest I have ever taken. I believe it was well over 1,000lbs!

So after doing that, I began to measure out and level the area where I was going to build the new barn. The back corner will be at the same spot as the former shed, making use of the same level base.

Ready to haul to the dump!

Then it will extend out in towards the hill and driveway. It will be a 16’X20′ barn.  My friend let me borrow his Kubota with a bucket on it to level out an area and spread out some soil/fill that I had piled up over the summer. I then built plywood forms and staked them to be level. Then I had 8 tons ($12.70/ton) of 2B gravel poured inside the forms. Uphill from the base, I used leftover drain pipe and covered that with gravel so any water running down the hill will drain out around the barn pad…well most of it hopefully!

Leveled ground and built form.

I am in the midst of leveling out the gravel inside the forms. I am also collecting old cinder block from a friends old barn that was knocked down. It will need a little cleaning up, but they will work great. I am going to lay the cinder block around the perimeter of the form and build the pallets on them to keep them away from any moisture. This also gives me more headroom inside the barn.

More pics to come in next update…

8 tons of 2B stone.

Ready to build!


This is an update as to what I have been up to lately. We have about 6 new chicks (1 mo. old now) out in the coop. We have 5 Khaki Campbell ducks on their way in late may, and 4 of our goats are pregnant and due in late June.

My next project is to tear down our existing sheds and build sheds made out of pallets. This would be our garden shed (may also double as sugar shack), and our goat shed. I’d like to make it bigger and have dry space for hay and feed storage.

We also had a great sap season. I gathered 400+ gallons of sap which returned 14 gallons of syrup. I boiled about 15 gallons of sap at home after my boiler friend stopped boiling. We got 1.5 quarts from doing that over the fire pit. The kids loved it!

Boiling sap at home

We also received a baby Sannen buckling from a friend. He was a week old in mid march and we are bottle feeding him currently. I also built a goat milking stand for when our two goats, who are half dairy breed, freshen. The other two goats are Boer goats so we will not be milking them. =)

Goat stand from scrap wood.


Hillside Pasture

I was flipping through a “Hobby Farmer” magazine the other night and realized that the whole idea of hobby framing is really aimed at those who have an expendible income. The advertisements are full of expensive “farm toys”. The articles talk about high bloodlines and innovative ideas…if you have the money to implement them. You hear stories about “When we moved from our city house to our cute farmette in the country” or “we moved from our suburban 3,000 sq ft home to our country estate/cottage to enjoy country life”. I don’t know what part of farming was done for just enjoyment. Yes, an agricultural lifestyle can be enjoyable and fulfilling…due to the hard work. But it was mostly born from necessity.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a very interesting magazine and you can get many ideas from it.

I thought it was ironic though that hobby farming is basically for the “rich” these days, when in times past, that’s how the poor lived.  Making the most out of small rural acreage.  In these economically hard times, hobby farming should be aimed at doing more with less….less money that is. I can not say that I live on a farm, nor that I am a farmer. We only own less than 1.5 acres. I have a regular job that pays the bills…barely, and a side business to make extra money to fill in the gaps. We do live in a rural area but that is only because I made the choice to go to college in a rural area. It’s the first place I settled before I even had a family of my own. So we had that going for us from the beginning I guess. I don’t think we could have afforded to “move to a country lifestyle”.

That’s the whole reason that my wife and I decided to pursue raising our own food. At least as much as we could handle doing ourselves. Each year we have expanded to do a little more. We increase the garden every year, we are increasing the diversity of animals we raise as well. Each one has its own function in the process of raising healthy food. We have a garden, so compost and insect control are a must. We have chickens that take care of the bugs (and the tomatoes too unfortunately). We have goats that provide us meat, and milk will be flowing next year hopefully. The chickens also take care of mixing in the goat droppings with the grass and dirt. We take out the goat shed bedding to the compost pile since its basically hay, wood shavings, and goat droppings. The chickens provide us with eggs and an occasional chicken dinner. Hopefully in the spring we will also have two piglets to raise. They will be placed where our current garden is. Pigs do a great job mixing in compost while providing their own manure into the garden. We can fence in the current section of garden space for the pigs, then rotate the next year.

Pig/Garden Rotation (www.cricketbread.com)

All of this is done with minimal expense.  I use old second hand items when possible. For instance, our current goat shed is the old metal shed that came with the house. I asked a farmer about a broken calf hutch one day and he said I could have it for free…in fact I got two and let my friend have one. Two lengths of our electric net fencing were basically given to us as long as I went and ripped them out from being buried under tall over grown field grass…It was literally a treasure hunt! Our neighbor graciously lets us use the steep hillside along our house to pasture the goats. I think he is just glad to have the hillside mowed and rid of multiflora rose.

If anything needs to be bought, I ask around first to see if anyone nearby has the item and aren’t using it. If I cant find it, I search for used items on the internet. My last resort is to buy  something brand new. We cant afford tractors and other large motorized farm tools, nor do we have the room to store them. Once you can afford to buy the equipment, you have to afford to build outbuildings to store them in. So our work takes longer and gives us more exercise. It also will hopefully instill in our children a good work ethic. That is the second reason why we chose to start raising as much food for ourselves as we can on a low budget.

So, I think there needs to be a magazine focused on low budget hobby farming. I am sure there is one somewhere already.


20-30 min old!

We now have two new baby goat kids! Our Gabby was pregnant when we got her in late April…or was it early May, anyways, we weren’t really sure how far along, or if she was pregnant at all when we got her. But she started getting wider as the days went on and we were sure she was pregnant. We just didn’t know when the kids were due. We started seeing some signs that she was getting close. She started moving slower, the area under her tail started protruding out and she was laying down a lot more. But a day or two before she had the kids, she was as lively as ever. So we figured she still had a ways to go.

Yumm!

Yumm!

I was out in the garden on Friday night picking lettuce and kale for dinner. I had been out there for about 10 minutes and I heard this loud high pitch balling. I knew it wasn’t one of the four goats. So I ran up to the pen and saw Gabby with her two new little ones! I was SOOOO excited to go and tell my boys. I ran to the house and shouted for Charles to come out and see the new babies. He popped off the couch so fast and ran to get his shoes on. I think he was just as excited, if not more so, as I was. Keep reading


Our house

I thank God most everyday for the home he has given me. Not just the house itself, but all that encompasses our Home. The house is a large part of that. But add in the location, neighbors, the wife and children that fill the house, the animals in and around our home, and Gods presence in the midst of it all. Nothing is sweeter! Keep reading