This blog has received quite a few followers since I last wrote here. Which makes me feel extra guilty for not posting regularly. Since then, there have been a few job changes, kids have grown older, and different animals that have come and gone.

We attempted raising a sheep from weened stage to slaughter. It went so well that I think we will try

Lamb and strawberries

Lamb and strawberries

doing some more in the near future. It was easy to manage as it preferred the grass to the weedy stuff that our goats prefer. So there was always enough for it to eat without competing with the goats. The goats definitely ruled the pasture and barn over the sheep. We ended up with 38 lbs. of lamb meat with hardly having to feed any hay and only minimal grain for about 4 or 5 months. Not bad.

We also recently sent our two Boer goats out to get bred. We take them to Little Angel Acres in Millerton, Pa. She has great breeding stock and we have always been happy with her accommodations, price, and kindness. This year they buck was a dapple Boer. His color reminded me of an Appaloosa horse. I have looked online for images of one that looked just like him, but I couldn’t find any that looked as handsome as he does. So, needless to say, we are excited to see the offspring in April.

1.3 acres $139,000

1.3 acres $139,000

We have also put our home up for sale. We had an offer within a months time and it was a long ordeal that eventually fell apart because the USDA does not approve homes with a spring for a water source. Isn’t that so ridiculous? Our spring is an improved spring with a 750 gal. holding tank. There is always plenty of water, no surface contamination, not hard or soft, no sulfur….its what people pay big money for! The wells in the area usually have sulfur and iron in the water. And they would only guarantee the loan if a well was dug. So backwards.

So the house is back up for sale. We are in agreement on another home that we will be able to own mortgage free with a little more land for our goats and chickens to roam.

983778_558867360906674_7102185247837429402_n

Merlin, Me, Phil

I have also partnered in a new company called Remote Intelligence, LLC. Its is a company that provides advanced aerial services using UAV’s, or more widely known as drones. This technology is used for a wide array of useful and productive data capture from wildlife surveys, timber stand evaluation, and mapping,  to security, construction management, precision agriculture, cinematography and more.

I have not posted anything related to political or social current events recently. I have a few thoughts I would like to share in anther post. I will be building another pallet barn once we finally move and will be posting about that as that is what has attracted most of my viewers. But what I wold really like to hear from you all, is what you would like me to look in to? I want to hear from my audience what you would want me to post about.


It’s been a while since I posted updated pictures of our Pallet Barn. We have since poured a concrete floor and set up the dividing wall for the goat area. Pouring the concrete was a learning experience. The floor was too large to have any kind of way to scree it level and I did not have a large float so I did it by hand. So with the help of my brother nephew it turned out ok…not perfect, but ok. I am satisfied with it.

Concrete floor (4.5 yds)

Concrete floor (4.5 yds)

I also made use of more pallets for the goat area. The only new material I purchased for this was the wire mesh and the hardware for the gate.

Divider for goat area.

Divider for goat area.


I had my brother and his kids up for hunting after Thanksgiving. I made use of their time, and also invited my other two brothers and my dad to help. It was a great time working together. Three generations of Schwarz men working together to raise a barn…it was awesome.

Adding the second layer of pallets.

Everyone had an important part in the whole process. I had lots of minds to bounce ideas off of. The younger men (my nephews) were very useful in doing the things that just needed extra hands to be done, holding this or that, bringing lumber where it needed to be, nailing, screwing etc… One of my brothers was helpful in being a “go-getter” when we needed material I hadn’t gotten already and also as an extra set of hands.

Adding interior support and exterior sheathing.

Another brother did some other jobs I wasn’t able to get done with all the busyness, and he helped build the trusses. And the other brother was able to be a sort of  “job foreman”, directing the younger kids what to do, and being able to jump on jobs without much instruction. My Dad was helpful in thinking of different ways to design and build the trusses and where to add extra support of the entire structure.

Taking a break for some laughter and planning.

I thought I would be completely stressed out trying to direct everyone, but it went rather smoothly. Everything seemed to work out. Any hiccups were quickly figured out and never really became a problem. I didn’t get as much done in that day as I had hoped due to some early morning errands that took too long but all in all a lot got accomplished. A big thank you to my family!

Both layers on. Top plate installed. Sheathing and Trusses ready to be installed.

Designing the trusses.

Building the trusses.Lifting trusses in place.Setting the trusses.Fir strip to set trusses and also for nailers for metal roofing.Almost finished the trusses.

Leftover metal roof from my house used.


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


The days are getting closer to when we have our own goats. As stated in another post, we have decided to go the pet/meat path for now instead of dairy goats. I know goats shouldn’t be seen as pets  and meat at the same time. But my goal is to have meat goats…but for now may be considered pets. I don’t think at first that I will be able to do the butchering. I think it might be easier to take them somewhere.  I think it will be too easy to get attached to only two or three goats as apposed to many.

So in preparation we have measured out  a 100′ by 100′ enclosure which will include our old metal shed. The roof on the shed had holes  rusted through it and holes in the plywood. Last night we cleaned out the shed and I ripped off and replaced the roof with some leftover metal roofing I had from our house re-roofing project. Everything went real easy and quickly.

Shed roof repair

Shed roof repair

I also started weed whacking around the perimeter of the area we are going to fence so that installing the fence will be easy.

Our next steps will be making a better floor in the shed for the goats and then purchasing the fence and fencer. We were going to go with the electric netting fence, which is quite expensive. But we talked with a friend of ours who suggested that we use 4 strands of 9-wire electric fence and get a mature goat along with one or two that are still young. So the older goat will be familiar with electric wire fence and also know how to graze.

This route will be much less expensive and allow us to expand our pasture area over time.

Some our pasture

Some our pasture


This was used from www.sheepsheep.com

(The above picture was used from http://www.sheepsheep.com)

If you have been following this blog, you’ve noticed that we like to keep busy. Between two children under 3yrs old, an energetic dog and restoring an old house, we keep busy. We are either rushing to visit friends, driving downstate, working on the house, or taking time to be together as a family.

Our latest idea/project is to raise goats. We have mulled this over for some time now. We have a few friends that currently raise goats and we have made visits and talked with them about the pros and cons of raising goats. Many of our friends have a family cow and maybe a few beef grazing around. Seeing firsthand the benefits of raising such an animal is inspiring, but when you only have 1.3 acres, there’s not much you can do but continue to watch. That’s when the idea of goats seemed to just pop in my head. I found out that you can raise them for meat or for dairy, and they are quite tasty providers of both! Also their size is a lot more convenient for those without large tracts of land. We are currently looking into Nubians and Boer goats.

I must say though that we did get permission to use an adjoining 1.5 acres to our land. This has really been the green light we needed to start looking a bit more seriously. Otherwise, I’m not so sure how it would go, if at all. If you look at some of my past posts of our home, you will see that on the hill side above our house was used for steer a few years ago. It is now perfect goat pasture. Lots of brushy stuff, and lots of grass along with fully grown shade trees.

Showing the pasture behind the house.

We also have a temporary shelter for goats until I can build or purchase something more convenient. Its our old metal shed. It already sits right next to the adjoining land, so that works well.

Our shed right next to the pasutre already.

Our shed right next to the pasutre already.

The next thing we will need to do is work on fencing. Figuring out what kind and how much. I’ll keep you up to date as things progress!